SFC Energy, a global leader in manufacturing fuel cell energy solutions for remote applications, is accelerating their presence into Northern Ontario’s mining industry.
Fuel cell technology presents several advantages to remote mines, whose reliance on traditional energy sources have posed logistical and environmental challenges for years. Michael Yakasovich, SFC’s Technical Sales Representative for Northern Ontario, says adding fuel cells to a company’s network is a “game changer.”
SFC’s fuel cells produce power through a chemical reaction and non-combustion process, which results in highly reliable power generation, with no harmful emission footprint.
Fuel Cells already play a central role in enhancing the efficiency, reliability, and environmental sustainability in the mining industry across Canada. Yakasovich envisions a similar future for the Northern Ontario Mining Industry, “It's perfect for our climate because it's so harsh here,” he says, referring to the region’s extreme cold temperatures and large amounts of snowfall.
Yakasovich says the sky's the limit for industrial applications, but he’s also excited about the potential for telecommunication providers, saying they’ll be taking a big step in making the region more sustainable by shifting over to fuel cells. These environmentally conscious power solutions will enhance efficiency in wireless networks and will also contribute to the overall reduction of carbon emissions in Northern Ontario.
Speaking specific to Hydrogen, The Ontario government is also on board with hydrogen technologies – which is exactly where SFC’s expertise with the new technology comes into play.
Earlier in 2023, the Ministry of Energy asked the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to develop and implement a Hydrogen Innovation Fund (HIF) to integrate hydrogen technologies into Ontario’s electricity grid – with the purpose of strengthening the electricity system, but also to contribute to broader decarbonization in the province.
According to the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association, hydrogen is the leading candidate to replace coal, diesel and other fuels for industrial heating. Paired with carbon capture and sequestration, hydrogen can also help the traditional energy sector transition into low emissions energy, a goal the federal government has aimed to achieve by 2050.
Northern Ontario’s industrial markets are starting to familiarize themselves with fuel cells and are already starting to reap the benefits from deploying this technology across their remote operations in the province.
“The mining industry – like those taking shape around the mineral rich Ring of Fire is a perfect example of where a fuel cell can be used to improve operations.
If you use one of SFC’s fuel cells in conjunction with solar, you can have autonomous power just about anywhere you want it. A mine site needs telecommunications equipment across the operation,” Yakasovich says. ”This eliminates the need to bring grid power into an area which ultimately results in significant cost savings for our end users”
One of his clients in the region has outfitted its autonomous hauler fleet with the hybrid fuel cell trailers, which are providing consistent power to their communications network across the open pit mine.
As he makes connections in Northern Ontario, customers are generally amazed when he explains the fuel cell advantage, Yakasovich says.
“Solar power is great when the sun is out,” he says. “But when winter comes, or in summers where you have the smoke from forest fires blocking out the sun for weeks on end, that’s when you need a backup system. Fuel cells become a great hybrid method to ensure reliable power all the time.”
There’s also the maintenance advantage, Yakasovich says.
“Our systems are virtually maintenance free,” Yakasovich says. “Once a year you'll have to go check on them just to make sure there’s still methanol in the cartridges or install new ones as necessary.”
“It’s not like a diesel generator, where you’re worrying about the gas inside, worrying about the filters, oil changes and spark plugs.”
“You basically set it up once, make sure it has fuel and you’re good to go.”
To contact the team at SFC Energy, visit their web site by clicking here.