Monday, September 28, 2015

Rental Power Plants: Providing Reliable Electricity to the Mining Industry

A persistent shortage and instability in the supply of power around the world, in some instances for reasons beyond any party’s control, has pushed many countries and mining operators to agree to reduce power supply to mining sites. The electricity supply insufficiency and the consequent load shedding, on top of increasing overhead costs and continuously weakening commodity prices, have driven mining companies in different regions to scale down or suspend operations altogether.

“Some parts of mining operations will be halted or scaled back to cope with the regular power cuts,” say an industry player. “Electricity,” he adds, “is not only utilized in the actual mining and processing, but also in maintenance. So, we are particularly preoccupied about our old underground mines, because there power is an exceedingly high overhead cost.” He believes that with the way things are going at the present, the immediate solution to save the business is to lay off workers, by the thousands.

Some entities have tried surmounting the challenge by importing power from their neighboring countries. But while it is not a guarantee of a continuous power supply, introducing power from other countries have led to an increased cost of running mining operations, owing to higher electricity prices.

Some operators have installed local power generation systems to support the supply of electricity to the mining sites, but their power production is not always enough to run the energy-intensive processes of a large-scale mining operations, including exploration, production, and climate control.

In times of persistent power shortage, mining companies will find hiring the services of temporary power providers beneficial to their operations. It is undeniable that electricity plays an essential role in mining operations, and renting large-scale power plants can guarantee a constant supply of reliable power to mining sites, without the need to spend scarce CAPEX in building permanent power facilities. In these difficult times for the industry, mining companies will appreciate the fact that they can pay for the electricity produced by hired power plants from their operating revenues. Mining companies can also choose to add power modules to the rental power plants as their operations expand and their requirement for electricity increase.

Rental power plants are not only reliable, they are also environmentally friendly. Modern rental generators boast of cleaner operations, being able to run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas or a combination of gas and diesel. Studies conducted in different rental power plants sites around the world show that temporary power stations, like those running on natural gas, can surpass the worldwide NOx emission requirements, emitting only 250 mg/Nm3 even without after treatment.

The present times have not been favorable to the mining industry. Mining companies, established and start-ups alike, are struggling to maintain a profitable production, and this has resulted in job loss and limited expenditure. A reliable and consistent supply of electricity is one key solution to the survival and development of mining operations against the backdrop of these trying times, and rental power plants represent a technology that can guarantee just that.


Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Eight Facts You May Not Know About Africa’s Power Production

Many African countries have been facing power supply challenges for various reasons. Be they related to power infrastructure, seasonal changes, or natural phenomena, electricity shortages have considerable effects on the lives of people in Africa.

Africa Altaaqa Global Power Energy Electricity Hire Rental Temporary

Africa’s power situation, however, offers more interesting specifics beyond the usual news of power outages, load shedding and blackouts. We trawled the web to find interesting facts about Africa’s energy use. Here are eight notable facts, below:

Zambia and Mozambique’s dependence on hydropower is at high 90s
More than 99.6% of Zambia’s electrical energy is attributed to hydropower, while 99.8% of Mozambique’s electricity is generated by dams. In the coming years, however, experts see that Mozambique’s dependence on hydropower will be reduced as it set to become Africa’s biggest producer of natural gas.

Algeria produces 92.4% of its energy from natural gas 
Algeria’s energy production from natural gas bested Egypt’s 75%, Ivory Coast’s 67.5%, Nigeria’s 50% and Gabon’s 40.5%. It is important to note that globally, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkmenistan meet completely all of their energy needs from gas.

Eritrea generates 99.4% of its energy from oil—the highest proportion globally
As a side note, a resident of Eritrea consumes the lowest energy per year of any nationality globally. A resident of the US consumes 55 times more, and that of Qatar 135 times more.

Botswana produces 100% of its energy from coal 
Botswana has an estimated 35 billion tonnes of the resource. The government puts it at 212 billion tonnes. As a comparison, South Africa derives about 94% of its power from coal.

Botswana has the highest GDP per unit energy use
In 2012, the country derived $13.8 from a kilogramme of oil equivalent, making it the most efficient in Africa, and fifth most efficient globally. To contextualize this fact, Hong Kong is the most efficient, getting $24.6 from the same quantity.

South Africa is Africa’s largest producer of energy
South Africa produces 163 million tonnes of oil equivalent. It is ranked 17th in the world, with Algeria and Egypt as the only other African countries making it to the global top 30.

South Africa is the continent’s largest consumer of energy
According to the World Bank, South Africa consumes 141 million tonnes of oil. In comparison, China, South Africa’s largest trading partner, consumes 20 times more.

African countries are among the world’s lowest net importers of energy
Top African crude producers Republic of Congo, Gabon and Angola export all of their production and harness renewable energy sources instead. As an illustration, Congo produces just 0.7% of its electricity from oil and 60% from hydro, while Angola generates 70% of its energy from hydro.

The power and energy sector in Africa offers notable potential. Though still confronted with various power-related challenges, Africa has been showing significant momentum in power across the continent. Experts agree that a balanced and reliable energy mix, including traditional, renewable and temporary power sources, can keep Africa on the road to further economic and social development.

Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Temporary Power: Keeping the Mining Industry Buoyant Through the Trying Times

The present times have not been favorable to the mining industry.

Many mine operators in Africa, Asia and South America have been facing myriad production-related challenges, owing to power shortages, not helped by the longer and stronger than expected El Niño phenomenon. El Niño, a cyclical meteorological phenomenon, brings extreme weather to parts of South America, Southeast Asia, Australia and Africa. For instance, mining operators in Indonesia, a major nickel and copper producer, have been facing consistent output drops as hydroelectric power facilities fail to generate enough electricity. In Peru and Chile, persistent heavy rains not only cause extreme flooding into zinc mines, affecting their production and triggering price spikes, but wide spread blackouts and damage to power infrastructure.

Then, there is the gradual decline of prices of commodities for the past several years. Prices of gold, silver, iron ore, coal and copper have all been negatively affected by stringent credit restrictions, weak global demand and a growing supply from new low-cost projects. As a result, mining companies, established and start-ups alike, are struggling to maintain a profitable production, resulting in job cuts and tighter cash flows and limited expenditures.

In such a case, mine operators can find huge benefits in hiring the services of temporary power providers. Electricity plays an undeniably essential role in mining operations, be it in exploration, production, climate control or workplace visibility, and rental power plants can provide the necessary electricity without the operators spending scarce CAPEX. As opposed to investing in permanent power infrastructure, mining companies can pay for the electricity produced by hired power plants from their operating revenues. As their operations expand and their power requirements increase, mine operators will be able to add additional power modules that will increase the rental power plant’s generation capacity. The investment in temporary power plants have been proven to be marginal compared to the cost of foregone opportunities, lost production time, or wasted man-hours.

As rental generators are modular and containerized, they can be rapidly delivered to and installed anywhere in the world, and can be tailored to the requirement of any mining site. They are fully able to function even in remote locations and in sites where traditional power infrastructure, like grids and substations, is outdated, damaged or absent. They can be fully constructed and powered on in a matter of days, and can be ramped up or scaled down depending on a site’s power usage demand.

Modern rental generators boast of a cleaner operation, being able to run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas or dual-fuel (70% gas and 30% diesel). As a case in point, Caterpillar’s natural gas-powered generators surpass the NOx emission requirements, emitting only 250 mg/Nm3 even without after-treatment.

Caterpillar’s gas generators are also capable of converting coal mine methane to electric or thermal power, which contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The gas generator technologies have the ability to utilize gas with variable concentrations of methane.

The global mining industry is going through challenging times triggered by natural and economic circumstances. Temporary power technologies can give mine operators a sustainable competitive advantage, as they can enhance a site’s productivity and optimize its processes without the need for a sizeable capital expenditure.


Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Monday, September 7, 2015

Straight from the Shoulder: Insights on the Rental Power Market in the Middle East

Altaaqa Global CCO, Julian Ford, shared his insights on the outlook of the temporary power industry in the Middle East. He also discussed how generators running on gas and dual-fuel are gradually gaining ground. Highlights...

What has led to the rise in the power rental market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)?

First of all, it is important to note that the rental power industry in the Middle East, as with other regions in the world, goes in cycles, and is dependent on the prevailing market situation and activities. 

The buoyance of the rental power market in the MENA region is spurred by several factors.

  • Utility shortages, particularly in KSA, Kuwait and Iraq, especially during peak summer months 
  • The gradual recovery of the construction industry in UAE and Saudi Arabia
  • Sustained production of oil & gas and repair & maintenance of refineries and associated infrastructure
  • Absent or unreliable electricity connection in many areas in the region
  • Regional growth in population and upgrades in the standards of living
  • The availability of diesel, and the nascent increase in the supply of natural gas, particularly in African markets 
  • Large industrial customers companies turning to rental power to maintain the effectiveness/productivity of their operations in times of power interruptions or peak shaving
  • Looking forward, there will also be significant opportunities for infrastructure rebuilding and development in like Iraq, Libya and Syria

Which is the biggest genset market in the region? Recent reports suggest Saudi Arabia and Qatar are leading the way. What are the countries, you think, follow the list?

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have been demonstrating high economic growth rates buoyed by industrial and commercial development. As such, these countries have consistently been the biggest market for gensets in the region, be it for rental or for sales. On the sales front, a recent report by Frost and Sullivan show that the genset market in the GCC is set to grow to as much as USD 950.4 million in 2018, largely due to intensive construction activities, prevention of transmission and distribution bottlenecks and determent of power shortages. Rental figures follow a similar trajectory.

It is interesting to note that certain markets, like the UAE, reflect encouraging genset sales figures because they are vital hubs for re-exporting generators to nearby markets.

A number of other Middle Eastern markets, like Yemen, Iraq and Syria, are currently going through a difficult period. As the governance of these countries become more stable in the coming years, we believe that they will represent excellent market opportunities for temporary power providers.

Between gas and diesel gensets, which has a better growth prospect and why? Upcoming trends in the genset market for the MENA region?

It is expected that the diesel genset market will continue to grow in the next several years, riding high on the wide availability of fuel, fuel safety and economy and ease of installment of diesel equipment.

We are noticing however the gradual expansion of the natural gas and dual-fuel genset markets, particularly where inexpensive natural gas is available. The growth of such markets are supported by the increase in unconventional gas resources and by stringent emission regulations in vigor in many countries around the world.

In the past, fuel availability and the costs of installing safe and reliable fuel delivery infrastructure have been limitations on the growth of the natural gas generator market. Today, however, gas is becoming increasingly available and gas generation technology progressively finds application in bigger and longer-duration projects.  The availability of dual-fuel generators (which significantly simplifies the transition from diesel-run to gas-run generators), is also helping to overcome these obstacles.

Side-bar: How do dual-fuel gensets work?
  • Operate on a blend of diesel and natural gas fuel
  • They start operating with diesel as the fuel
  • As gas becomes available, the technology blends the gas with the diesel, substituting natural gas for diesel.
  • When a sufficient supply of natural gas is available for stand-alone operations, then the existing power plant can be easily replaced with 100% gas-fuelled generators

      What are the preferred ranges that are most popular in the region and the industries that are catered to? 
      The amount of required power vary from industry to industry. For instance, construction projects may require a few hundred kVA during the building phase to a few MW during the commissioning stage. Refinery maintenance and rehabilitation of often requires several MW of power. The utility industry has the biggest demand, usually requiring power plants of tens or hundreds of MW to provide supplementary power to the grid. 

      For our part, we provide large-scale temporary power plants, focused on utility markets, extractive industries such as mining and oil and gas, large process industries and major construction infrastructure projects.  


      Altaaqa Global
      Tel: +971 56 1749505

      Temporary Power Plants Support Hydropower Generation

      Many countries around the globe whose electricity generation is mainly dependent on hydropower are being adversely affected by the extended and intense El Niño phenomenon. El Niño, a cyclical meteorological phenomenon, brings droughts in a number of regions in the world, causing hydropower facilities to fail to generate enough electricity for residential and industrial consumption.

      In cases like this, utility providers or governments of hydropower-dependent countries can find merit in hiring large-scale temporary power plants. Rental power plants can instantly fill in the gap in electricity supply without the need to heavily invest in permanent power infrastructure or wait years or decades for the completion of one. As large-scale rental generators are modular and containerized they can be rapidly delivered to and installed anywhere in the world, and can be configured to the requirement of any city, region or even an entire country. They are fully capable of working in remote locations and in areas where grids or substations are outdated, damaged or absent. They can be fully constructed and operated in a matter of weeks, and can be ramped up or scaled down based on the customer’s consumption.

      Aside from proven reliability and ease of installation and operation, large-scale temporary power plants also boast of sustainability and environmental stewardship. Modern large-scale rental generators are able to run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas or dual-fuel (gas and diesel) and thus surpass worldwide emission standards.

      By virtue of their economy, dependability and environmentally friendliness, renting large-scale temporary power plants as a solution for seasonal electricity requirements yields many benefits to governments, utilities, industries and residents.


      Altaaqa Global
      Tel: +971 56 1749505