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The electricity-hungry mining industry is investing in renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to power its operations, particularly those in remote locations, a new report from Navigant Research says. According to the report, rising energy prices and the desire to reduce mining companies' carbon footprints have created a growing consensus in the mining industry that renewable energy at mine sites - both grid-tied and off-grid - is feasible and often necessary.

According to Navigant Research, the portion of energy consumption in the mining industry supplied by renewable energy will grow from less than 0.1% now to at least 5% - and possibly up to 8% - by 2022.

Wind power will account for the majority of deployed renewable energy assets for mining operations by 2022, with nearly 516 MW of capacity, according to the report. Following closely will be solar power, with 493 MW of installed capacity.

In terms of geographical distribution, the Asia Pacific region will see the highest level of renewable capacity, with 505 MW. In all, more than 1,438 MW of renewable energy capacity for mining operations will be deployed worldwide by 2022, the report concludes.

"A number of mines are already utilizing large-scale wind power, but these sites were chosen based on extreme needs and/or ideal wind characteristics," says Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director at Navigant Research. "The industry is now at a point where it can move forward into larger and more complex deployments, potentially including energy storage technologies, which would enable a higher percentage of renewable use per mine site."




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