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One of the world’s largest off-grid solar-storage hybrid projects under construction in Mali is about to include solar forecasting into its system.

Gold producer B2Gold Corp approved the addition of a 36MWp solar plant along with a 17MW battery storage capacity to an existing thermal power plant.

This project makes Fekola Mine one of the first industrial sites of its scale in West Africa to pivot to a more sustainable energy supply.

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The mine’s hybrid energy system combines solar and storage with a diesel or heavy fuel oil genset, an ideal combination to provide stable energy supply for the remote mining operation.  

Fekola Mine’s power plant will incorporate a Reuniwatt solar forecasting system into their project to mitigate the risk of solar production variability.

The forecasting system helps to optimise the use of the generated solar power, charge the batteries when possible and then use the available diesel genset only when necessary, thus minimising costs.

The system continuously provides forecasts of the PV plant’s power output, using data from a locally installed sky camera and advanced satellite-to-irradiance technology.

Suntrace and partner BayWa r.e. support B2Gold as solar experts during the implementation of the project and the storage system will be based on Wärtsilä’s energy management solution.

The project will rely on different types of forecasts, using information retrieved from satellite data and weather models for the coming hours. The Reuniwatt camera uses infrared vision technology for day and night cloud detect and can operate offline.

The camera can then forecast sudden drops of solar radiation within the next half hour, and action can be taken to ensure stable power supply and avoid blackouts.

CEO of Reuniwatt, Nicolas Schmutz explained solar forecasting could allow for significant cost savings through improved power reliability for large-scale off-grid projects. “Solar and battery storage hybrid projects are the future of energy supply for remote sites, as they allow operations to become cheaper and more sustainable,” said Schmutz.