Demand-Supply Mismatch

India is currently experiencing an economic upturn, with projected growth rates hitting pre-financial-crisis levels at more than 6%. There is, however, an escalating power supply shortage that may potentially hamper India’s continuous economic growth.

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Energy experts reveal that, to date, an estimated 300 million people in India have no access to electricity – which may seem an irony, in light of the fact that recorded data in recent years show that the demand for power in India has constantly outstripped the supply, both in terms of base load energy and peak availability. Owing to this imbalance, the country is said to register an 8.5% deficit in base load requirement and a 9.8% short-fall in peak load requirement.

This prevailing energy challenge is manifesting. Who could forget the massive blackout of 2012 that left 700 million people in India without electricity? In what is touted to be one of the worst blackouts in history, twenty of India’s 28 states suffered the effects of the power interruption that almost incited social instability and protests for fears that the country was no longer in the position to support its booming local energy demand. The repercussion was widespread and was nothing short of catastrophic: traffic jams all over the affected cities, babies wailing of heat, bodies half-burnt at crematoriums, patients gasping for every breath of life, miners trapped underground in complete darkness, passengers stranded in the middle of miles of track.

While other regions in the country are predicted to be severely affected by the energy shortage, India’s Central Electricity Authority forecasts that Northern India can expect a power surplus during the monsoon months, as most of its power generation capacity is predominantly dependent on hydropower.

This fact bodes well for region and for the other areas where it exports its surplus power, but it may not be permanently dependable. As it is largely conditioned by the amount of rainfall, one of the drawbacks of hydropower generation is that the capacity may gradually recede during seasons of less precipitation or of drought.

In recognition of these shortcomings, the government is currently taking steps to mitigate the effects of power insufficiency and has then launched ambitious rural electrification programs. The caveat, however, is that the rate of building or refurbishing permanent infrastructure still lags behind the pace of the increase in energy demand. As a result, ground research shows that approximately 400 million Indians still lose power during blackouts and that 35.5% of Indian households still has limited access to electricity. As India’s demand for electricity is not showing signs of slowing down, the country’s energy supply just cannot keep in step.

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The much needed power boost

In times when permanent power plants are still in progress and when the customary sources of energy cannot keep up with the electricity requirements, the Government and the utility industry stakeholders may opt to hire temporary power plants. Temporary power generation companies, like Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power, have the products that can support the existing power generation infrastructure, with the end of bridging the gap in electricity supply as, where and when the necessity be.

Hiring power plants has tested and recognized merits, particularly in cases of emergencies, natural calamities and abrupt seasonal changes. Signing an agreement with interim power providers can also prove beneficial when electricity distribution facilities are not available in certain areas, like in dispersed communities; when permanent power stations are still being constructed or commissioned or when energy generation facilities are being expanded or refurbished.

India’s initiative to harness alternative sources of energy, like hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal and tidal has proven to be effective, but seasonal changes may alter the operations of the aforementioned facilities. For instance, some parts of the country where hydroelectric power stations operate may experience droughts or prolonged absence of rain, which in turn can drastically reduce the power generation capacity of the said plants. Solar or photovoltaic farms thrive during summer months but may experience shortage in production in months when days are predominantly cloudy or rainy. In these cases, rental power plants may support the power generation capacity of the current facilities if only to bridge the gap during the crucial months of seasonal change.

Power need not run dry

Tapping the potential of alternative sources of energy definitely has its merits, particularly in the context of natural gas conservation and of sustainability. Yet, one salient disadvantage of these alternative power technologies is their perceived dependence on nature, say on the amount of sunshine, wind or water. With the help of temporary power plants, these alternative energy infrastructure can continue to work at the optimum level, even in times of seasonal change. As a result, the areas where these facilities supply power to will not have to suffer from energy deficiency and constant load shedding. With the aid of interim generators, power need not set as the sun sets, drop as the wind drops and dry up as water dries up.

Power Watch India Sept 2014 Cover

*The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of Power Watch magazine, India.*

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PRESS INQUIRIES
Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505
rbagatsing@altaaqaglobal.com

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Mobile Gensets for Renewable Energy Sources

Rising above the electricity-related challenges that have hounded the country for decades, India is now said to have the fifth-largest power generation portfolio and is regarded the fifth largest wind energy producer in the world. As a response to the observed electricity supply shortage in India, feared to worsen as months of peak consumption draw near, power generation from renewable sources are currently being maximized and optimized to support the country’s permanent traditional energy facilities. In 2013, for example, the share of renewable power in India’s total energy mix stood at 12.3%, up from 7.8% in 2012. Wind power accounted for the lion’s share of the renewable energy generation figure, at 68% and an installed capacity of 19.1 GW.

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Recognizing the merits of harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources, the government of India has launched various initiatives to encourage efforts to transition from fossil-based energy options, including offering tax holidays and generation-based incentives or GBIs. The benefits of renewable energy sources are gradually being recognized by different sectors of society, and as the government opened renewable energy projects to foreign and local venture and investment, alternative power generation technologies are seen to have a bright roadmap ahead.

Though renewable energy sources are seeing much support from the government, citizens and investors alike, energy industry professionals observe that renewable technologies have so much more potential to be developed. First, at the policy level, experts suggest the fortification of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) to drive the demand for electricity from renewable energy sources. They are also advocating a more intense motivation to construct power transmission infrastructure, so more electricity generated by alternative energy sources reaches the grid.

At the technology level, renewable power sources have much room to be enhanced. As we speak, research and development efforts are being taken to improve on their performance predictability and dependability, despite the fact that their “fuels” (such as water, wind or sunlight) depend on natural conditions, which could not be controlled or completely projected.

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As renewable technologies are being planned, constructed or augmented, and are still in diffusion to more communities and industrial areas in India, other alternative technologies can supplement them, bridging the gap in power supply and electricity demand. It has been documented that a 50 MW wind farm, for example, can be built in six months, and if one factors in the time needed for planning, designing, and receiving necessary approvals and permits, a wind farm may be operational after only a year or so. During the months when wind farms (or any other renewable energy facility for that matter) are not yet operational, mobile generator sets have the capacity to temporarily provide power to the communities planned to be beneficiaries of renewable energy.

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Temporary generators are cost-effective immediate solution to power supply shortages and instability, which do not require a huge initial capital to acquire and install. Because rental gensets are modular and flexible, interim power stations can be installed in most places where renewable energy facilities find applications. Owing to their adaptive configuration, temporary gensets can be easily installed and commissioned, and can be run in as little time as a few days. Additionally, as they are containerized and have relatively small dimensions, mobile generators can be delivered from any point in the world to another.

With the support of temporary power plants, the perceived limitations of renewable sources of energy can be surmounted, and the deficit in supply of power can be filled. As renewable facilities ramp up their reliability and predictability, interim power stations can provide a viable and sustainable supply of power when needed and as needed by communities and industrial facilities in India. Alternative power sources, when enhanced and properly utilized, have the capacity to support permanent traditional sources of electricity to avoid further energy outages and load shedding, and to extend the coverage of the electricity supply even to the most remote communities and industries in India.

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*The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of The Energy Outlook, India.*

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PRESS INQUIRIES
Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505
rbagatsing@altaaqaglobal.com

Bringing Power To Africa’s Mining Industry

Experts herald the mining industry as the light of Africa’s future. With the prevailing power deficiency, however, will the roadmap ahead be dim? Robert Bagatsing Marketing Manager; Peter den Boogert, General Manager and Majid Zahid, Strategic Accounts Director, of Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power provide the answer.

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The tenacity that Africa has shown in the face of the recent economic crisis is nothing short of commendable. If numbers from the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2014 are any indication, the continent’s future looks bright. Experts forecast growth rates of 4.8% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015, and financial in-flows in the area of USD 200 billion.

Playing a major role in Africa’s notable economic performance is the mining industry, widely regarded as one of the chief pillars of the African economy – and not without reason. The mineral industry in Africa is one of the largest in the world, riding high on the continent’s vast 30-million-square-kilometer land area. Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves, including bauxite, cobalt, diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite and zirconium. Naturally, gold mining is the African mining industry’s bread and butter.

The world sees the enormous size of Africa’s mining territory, but much of the continent’s potential still remains unearthed. Experts say that a considerable percentage of Africa’s precious metal reserves are underexplored, owing to several financial and operational motivations, among which is the observed lack of dependable, viable and sustainable power. For instance, in a recent release, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has advised mining companies to suspend any expansion plans or contractual modifications that would require extra power until further notice, in an effort to control the country’s demand for energy. The foregoing initiative from the government may have its benefits in the context of energy conservation, but it may definitely create economic and social deviations in the operations of the mining companies.

In light of this recent conundrum, from the prism of transitivity, a shortage in power supply could mean lost opportunities. With the postponement of mining expansion projects, additional mineral reserves, which could mean additional sources of revenue for operators, will remain unexplored for a longer period of time. A deficiency in energy could mean lost time, as plans that took years to finalize have already been chalked up, only to be discarded or shelved. A deficit in electricity could mean lost employment and income, as halting a project could lead to retrenchment.

With mining playing a major role in most of the African economies, an insufficiency in energy, leading to suspended operations, may have catastrophic wide-scale economic repercussions. Looking back in 2008, blackouts in the Republic of South Africa halted Anglo American, Impala Platinum Holdings and Harmony Gold Mining mines for five days – an incident that spelt a notable difference in the companies’ and in the country’s growth rates that year. A repeat of this predicament would imperil South Africa’s present economic projections, and in this day and age when economies no longer exist in a vacuum, particularly in Africa, where there is remarkable interdependence, a slight drop in one country’s economy may set off a domino effect.

The effects of load shedding on mining operations

In a recent communication, Eskom, the largest producer of electricity in Africa, announced that power cuts could potentially take effect if the surge in power demand in South Africa could not be tapered. This, according to industry experts, might bring about negative operational and financial consequences to mining companies. Mining consultants estimated that the rotational load shedding could result in losses in the area of millions of SAR (South African Rand) a day. Though efforts are being taken to ensure that production would continue in most of the mines around the country, studies pointed to the fact that the deepest underground mines, touted to be the largest employers in the mining industry in South Africa, would be most affected by load shedding. While this happened in South Africa, the same adverse effects to mining operations should be expected had the load shedding happened elsewhere.

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Making a difference with power

Before looking at possible solutions to Africa’s power woes, let us take a closer look at the anatomy of a power deficit. An electricity shortage may be caused by multitudinous reasons, including major planned or unplanned power plant facility refurbishment, a sudden spike in electricity demand, unstable electrical grid, emergency situations, turnaround and peak lopping or shaving, among others. In cases such as these, mining companies may opt to hire temporary power plants such to instantly supply viable and sustainable electricity to their facilities for an uninterrupted operation. Cost-benefit studies conducted across different mining facilities around the world show that the cost of renting interim power generation plants is marginal compared to the economic and financial impact that delays or suspension could bring to operations.

In other cases, mining operations that have localised electricity generation facilities, for instance, may experience energy shortage during summer or winter months, when there is a need to dedicate electricity for climate control. Without supplementary power, mining facilities could not meet the seasonal energy requirement, making the production environment unsuitable for working. Studies show that days with extreme temperature aberration are few in a year, thus mining facilities are discouraged to devote permanent power generation facilities solely for this purpose. This, therefore, makes a strong case for employing rental power plants, which is not as capital intensive as constructing a new, dedicated permanent power generation facility.

Interim power facilities, like the solutions offered by Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power, a global provider of temporary energy solutions, could spell the difference between lost opportunities and breakthrough. Because Altaaqa Global’s solutions are flexible and scalable, they can be employed in a wide range of applications, be they underground mines, open-pit mines or ore processing facilities. As the company’s products are customizable in size, capacity and, even, in cost, they can be rented by large international mining corporations and smaller regional or local aggregates producers, quarry operators or miners. Thanks to Altaaqa Global’s extensive product range, the company can address any requirement, including the need for standby power, prime power, continuous power, load lopping, peak shaving, or for utility power distribution.

Altaaqa Global’s offerings could spell the difference between lost time and progress. The company has a stellar record in providing interim power generators where needed, when needed, even at a moment’s notice. With Altaaqa Global’s industry-proven experience and reliability, the company has delivered executable, measurable and sustainable solutions to myriad projects across the Middle East and Africa. Owing to the availability of spare parts and expert teams on the ground, Altaaqa Global has proven that it can provide after-sales support to installed and commissioned projects at any given location, at any given time.

Altaaqa Global’s presence could spell the difference between lost jobs and success. The company has an avowed corporate social responsibility program, one of which tenet is to alleviate the social challenges of where it operates through providing job opportunities, extending educational assistance and conducting awareness campaigns on energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Not only could Altaaqa Global’s products ensure the continuous operations of mining projects, thus of one’s employment, the company actually employs competent and talented locals in areas where it sets up its facilities.

The future, electrified

As one of the cornerstones of the African economy, the mining industry deserves a keen attention, particularly in light of the looming power insufficiency. Experts say that Africa’s future is crucially anchored on the mining industry, and for this reason, stakeholders in the mining industry, including the governments, the operators and the investors, are investing thought, labour and money to keep the sector thriving. Permanent power generation facilities, which could provide a long-term solution to the continent’s power woes, are gaining ground in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, but their fruition could take some time. While these are in progress, mining companies could opt to rent interim power generation facilities, which are capable of satisfying urgent requirements in a considerably shorter time, precluding disastrous repercussions of operational delays and suspension.

Post-scriptum: Power Solutions for Power Problems

As a response to the looming power supply instability, governments in the Sub-Saharan Africa are mapping out alternative power generation projects, which end is to supply more energy in the long haul. In DRC, for instance, the Grand Inga hydroelectric project, forecast to add 44,000 MW to the country’s power supply, is said to be underway, while in Zimbabwe, upgrades to the Kariba South hydropower and the Hwange thermal coal plants are well in the pipeline. South Africa is keenly looking at Kusile and Medupi coal-fired power stations, with each plant expected to have a generating gross capacity of nearly 4,800 MW.

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*The foregoing article was originally published in the Electra Mining Africa Preview Supplement, produced by Creamer Media, South Africa.*

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PRESS INQUIRIES
Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505
rbagatsing@altaaqaglobal.com