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Energy Drive, Rockwell Automation and Sibanye-Stillwater Partner to Realise Significant Energy Savings

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Acting on a shared commitment to actualise sustainability.  


DURBAN, 8 December 2022 — Energy Drive is proud to announce the successful partnership with client Sibanye- Stillwater in achieving their energy efficiency goals. Energy Drive partners with clients in heavy industries across multiple continents to actualise their energy-related sustainability goals. “Collaboration is at the core of our business, and actualising sustainability is what drives us”, says James Hynd, CEO of Energy Drive.  

Energy Drive collaborated with global OEM Rockwell Automation to assist Sibanye-Stillwater in improving the energy efficiency of their surface ventilation systems. Sibanye -Stillwater has realised significant reductions in its energy consumption through the optimisation of a bespoke VSD (variable speed drive) solution to control the speed of electric motors and fans onsite. 

When describing Energy Drive’s term ‘actualising sustainability’, James Hynd explains that “a direct result of the energy savings we deliver is the reduction of CO2, which contributes to our clients’ sustainability targets, specifically carbon reduction targets.” Energy Drive, therefore, operates as a resource to energy-intensive industries, assisting with their response to pressure related to operational outputs and sustainability targets driven by investment committees.  

Sibanye-Stillwater approached Energy Drive in 2020 to initiate investigations into their large surface ventilation fans within their gold division in South Africa. Prior to the joint investigation, Sibanye-Stillwater’s North Shaft ventilation system consisted of two fans directly coupled to two 2240 kW induction motors. The flow of these fans was regulated using Inlet Guide Vanes (IGVs) and consumed 14.98  GWh per year, running one fan at a time, with the second fan remaining stationary as a standby unit.  

During the initial site assessment in collaboration with Sibanye-Stillwater’s onsite engineers, the Energy Drive team identified an opportunity to run both fans on the North Shaft simultaneously with fully open IGVs, reducing the speed on both using Rockwell’s Powerflex 6000T variable speed drive technology. The installation of Energy Drive’s system would enable the fans to achieve the same flow rate previously provided by one duty fan but with far greater energy efficiency – greater than 60% from the prior baseline condition.  

This joint initiative has been a great success for all stakeholders; with an original baseline of 1710.3 kW ( recorded for Shaft 8), the fans now run at 605.75 kW since the installation of the Energy Drive system. A saving of 374.02 GWh has been predicted from Shafts 8 and 2 and the upcoming project Shaft 5 from August 2021 to August 2031. This equates to 393.7M kg of CO2, SOx, and NOx emissions reduced 519.9M litres of water saved and 256.6M kg of coal and ash.  

“Records have shown that everywhere we’ve implemented VSDs, we’ve achieved better savings than planned, and it’s definitely been worthwhile,” shares Reghardt Pretorius, Senior Manager of Electrical Engineering at Sibanye-Stillwater.  

According to Energy Drive General Manager Mark Milne, the key to successfully actualising sustainability lies in the partnership between Energy Drive and its trusted suppliers and clients. “Our ultimate goal for a project is to achieve sustainability in a commercially viable way. To do that, we have to work with various stakeholders at different levels within our client’s organisation, from C suite through to engineering, energy and, obviously, procurement. From a supplier point of view, we work with global OEMs who provide us with the equipment we need and local suppliers who are involved in the installation of this equipment.” 

Rockwell Automation and Energy Drive “share a common vision to create the most efficient and sustainable solution for both customer and environment,” explains Thomas Malomane, Rockwell Automation’s Power Control Business Manager: Africa. “This makes for a successful partnership.” 

In order to actualise sustainability in a commercially viable way, Energy Drive executes its solution by way of a unique zero-capex performance-based model, effectively partnering with the client and supplier by removing the financial and personnel resource barriers to sustainability. “With Energy Drive’s model, Rockwell is able to supply energy-efficient solutions without a heavy capital burden. The energy savings that are generated offset the capital outlay. We believe this is the perfect win-win.”, shares Thomas.  

In light of the success of this project, Energy Drive and Sibanye-Stillwater have deployed another shaft and have another two shafts in the commissioning phase for 2023.    

About Energy Drive 

Energy Drive partners with companies from a range of energy-intensive industries to actualise their energy-related sustainability goals. Using variable speed drives to reduce our clients’ energy consumption and achieve more efficient operations, we also lower energy-related business costs. We achieve this by removing the barriers to energy optimisation by taking on the risk and staying invested with our clients for the long term. By purchasing the required equipment, installing it, and ensuring that it runs effectively for as long as it’s on a client’s site, we have found an innovative, fully engineered, turnkey sustainability solution executed via a zero-Capex service contract.  

About Rockwell Automation 

Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), is a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation. We connect the imaginations of people with the potential of technology to expand what is humanly possible, making the world more productive and more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs approximately 26,000 problem solvers dedicated to our customers in more than 100 countries. 

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