Modernising underground compressed air DSM projects to reduce operating costs
Kriel, Christiaan Johannes Roux
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Growing demand for electricity forces suppliers to expand their generation capacity. Financing these expansion programmes results in electricity cost increases above inflation rates. By reducing electricity consumption, additional supply capacity is created at lower costs than the building of conventional power stations. Therefore, there is strong justification to reduce electricity consumption on the supplier and consumer side. The mining and industrial sectors of South Africa consumed approximately 43% of the total electricity supplied by Eskom during 2012. Approximately 10% of this electricity was used to produce compressed air. By reducing the electricity consumption of compressed air systems, operating costs are reduced. In turn this reduces the strain on the South African electricity network. Previous energy saving projects on mine compressed air systems realised savings that were not always sustainable. Savings deteriorated due to, amongst others, rapid employee turnover, improper training, lack of maintenance and system changes. There is therefore a need to improve projects that have already been implemented on mine compressed air systems. The continuous improvement of equipment (such as improved control valves) and the availability of newer technologies can be used to improve existing energy saving strategies. This study provides a solution to reduce the electricity consumption and operating costs of a deep level mine compressed air system. This was achieved by modernising and improving an existing underground compressed air saving strategy. This improvement resulted in a power saving of 1.15 MW; a saving equivalent to an annual cost saving of R4.16 million. It was found that the improved underground compressed air DSM project realised significant additional electrical energy savings. This resulted in ample cost savings to justify the implementation of the project improvements. It is recommended that opportunities to improve existing electrical energy saving projects on surface compressed air systems are investigated.
- Engineering