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Renewable energy is changing the landscape of centralised power supply, but optimising its use remains challenging.

As a global frontrunner in the energy transition, Worley is helping customers navigate the complexities of transitioning to decentralised energy supply with its distributed energy systems (DES) global subject matter experts and regional project delivery teams.

Assuring customers resilient, reliable and cost-efficient energy, Worley’s DES solutions take the guess work out of harnessing and optimising renewable energy, energy storage, and hybrid systems.

As centralised power systems are shown to be less reliable and more carbon intensive, industries in South Africa and across the continent are turning to distributed renewable energy sources to supplement or back up traditional supply.

However, as these renewable energy propositions advance and serve more business critical loads, they become more complex to design, build, operate and integrate.

This is where Worley’s DES solutions can add immense value, by providing easy, cost-effective optimisation for complicated, multi-streamed energy systems.

Advantages of DES for the mining and heavy industry sectors

Denver Dreyer, Senior Vice President for Mining, Minerals and Metals (MM&M) – Europe, Middle East and Africa, says that distributed energy systems offer many advantages for Africa’s mining and heavy industry sectors in particular, where reliable power is essential for production uptime and the safety and health of miners deep underground.

“South Africa’s mining industry is under increasing pressure to switch to alternate energy sources in order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, keep miners safe, and meet production targets.

“We have seen encouraging proposed legislation that will help the industry meet these requirements,” says Dreyer.

Recently South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister indicated the government’s intention to allow mining companies to generate their own energy for self-use, while President Ramaphosa stated earlier this year that government would open the electricity market for energy users to generate electricity for their own use.

As well as providing reliable and cost-effective power solutions for businesses, distributed energy systems can also have positive socio-economic side benefits for emerging economies as businesses offset their carbon footprint by improving the living standards and availability of services to these communities.

“Distributed energy systems go beyond business needs and can improve the supply and reliability of services in emerging economies. It’s also of great benefit to customers exploring remotely located resources such as oil and gas, as getting transmission lines to these points can be prohibitively expensive,” says Dreyer.

Furthermore, energy users have grappled with how to quickly and cost-effectively devise and install off-grid energy for their specific usage requirements. Often assessments are lengthy and expensive with an unwieldy one-size-fits all approach.

Dreyer says that Worley is able to make swift recommendations through its world-class software platform, and develop tailored solutions centred around customers’ key drivers, be it accessibility, reliability, cost-efficiency, or emissions reduction.  

Unpacking the technology

Andrea Ruotolo, Worley’s Global Lead for Distributed Energy Systems, unpacks the technology behind the business’ unique capability, which is able to optimise and integrate multiple energy sources in the project design phase to ensure least-cost, best-fit solutions for specific end uses.

“Worley’s distributed energy systems are designed by the world’s most flexible and powerful optimisation software, providing faster and better DES sizing and configuration optimisation, while removing the barrier of the cost and slow time to obtain results of feasibility studies done by other methods.

“Our new digital business, VECKTA, is also technology agnostic, unlike many vendor-led approaches, so we offer an unbiased, technically and financially optimised solution from cradle to cradle,” she explains. 

VECKTA, the Energy Transition Platform™, harnesses cutting-edge technology to perform microgrid and DES technical and financial optimisation.

Incorporated as a joint venture between Worley, which has over 130 years’ experience in power, and XENDEE, the world’s leading software developer for DES design and optimisation tools, VECKTA gives Worley the ability to design and optimise distributed energy systems more quickly, accurately and affordably than any other company, while supporting pushing the edge of innovation with the ability to model all possible technical solutions.

Beyond design and optimisation, VECKTA also supports procurement and financing of complete, turnkey microgrids and other DES.

“VECKTA is a virtual marketplace, where people and companies who want a distributed energy system can design it, choose the technology, locate a vetted provider who can build it, and access competitive financing for it,” explains Ruotolo.

“It’s a revolutionary way to overcome the fragmentation in the industry.”

Powering this virtual marketplace is XENDEE’s optimising software, which takes into account the specific operating and financial requirements of each individual client, including location, status quo utility costs, regulatory compliance and carbon emissions.

Ruotolo says that Worley’s distributed energy systems cover a diverse array of distributed energy generation, distributed energy storage systems, and monitoring and controls systems. 

It offers higher levels of reliability and resilience than other energy systems to provide a tailored, cost-competitive source of always-on power for any energy-intensive user.

On-site advantages include a reduction in energy costs, improved safety and business uptime, and reduced emissions, while ancillary benefits for the surrounding grid include voltage and frequency support, black start support, and overall improved power quality and reliability.

These benefits can be monetised by the system owner through sales to the grid operator, and improve project economics.

“VECKTA represents the best technology available in the energy space combined with unique access to technical and financial information. Its marketplace platform can connect energy users with providers, ultimately delivering complete microgrids and distributed energy systems, including financing if required.

“This offers Worley’s customers cheaper power, reduced emissions, improved energy reliability and resilience, and new revenue streams,” says Ruotolo.

Dreyer adds that Worley has successfully delivered over 2 000 new energy projects globally and can service the full or individual parts of the value chain.

“We are in a strong position as a leading player in the transition to distributed energy systems that offer so much more than the centralised systems of the past.”

As businesses move rapidly towards cleaner and cheaper decentralised energy alternatives, Worley is proactively pursuing all possible technical solutions to help its customers prosper in the energy transition.