Blox Inc is committed to pioneering the use of renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact of mining for minerals. The extraction of resources consumes an enormous amount of electrical energy and in most cases that energy is supplied via conventional thermal generators burning diesel fuel. Diesel is both expensive and damaging to the environment, so while it may be a stop-gap solution for electricity production, it is far from optimal.
Our focus of operations is in West Africa, a populous region with world-class mineral resources.
In both Ghana and Guinea, where Blox Inc's mining concessions are situated, rainfall is high and there are a significant number of rivers capable of supporting hydro-electric1 power at various levels of output. The Volta River Authority operates the massive Akosombo dam across the Volta River, which is capable of generating approximately 1000MW of power. However, economic constraints have precluded this power plant from operating at full production. Even at 100% production, the dam is still incapable of supplying all the power required by Ghanaian consumers – especially the mining industry.
Guinea also has tremendous opportunities for hydro-electric and hydro-kinetic2 power generation as over 20 of West Africa's major rivers originate in the country's lush highlands. The largest is the Niger, which flows inland all the way through Mali before heading south east through Niger, along the Benin border and through Nigeria into the Atlantic Ocean – a journey of 4180km. In some locations it is possible to situate hydro-kinetic plants downstream of hydro-electric plants to generate secondary electricity from the flow of the same body of water.
Our mission is to utilize and optimize these local natural resources to supply cost-effective, reliable and environmentally responsible energy to bulk power users in West Africa – starting with the mining industry.
Several years ago, Blox Inc acquired the Kenderes Biogas Electricity plant in Hungary. The plant was subsequently closed in Hungary and the assets were moved to West Africa where they were deemed to be more economically viable. Included in those assets are two biogas-powered generators with a combined output of 1.2MW.
One potential option for these generators is to find a suitable source of biomass material capable of providing the necessary biogas to run the engines and incorporate this power production when our Mansounia project in Guinea moves nearer to production. In this way our existing renewable energy assets can be integrated to 'green' our own mining operations.
- 1Hydro-electric power is generated by the gravitational force of falling or flowing water turning a turbine to create electricity. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy and comprised approximately 16 percent of global electricity generation in 2010.
- 2Hydro-kinetic power is generated by devices capturing the energy of naturally flowing water such as stream, tidal, or open ocean flow without impounding the water like a dam.
Smart energy systems should:
- Use 100% renewable inputs such as biomass, solar, geothermal, wind or hydro.
- Consume a sustainable level of bioenergy without the need for hydrocarbon-based 'top-ups'.
- Use synergies to maximize efficiency and reduce costs via smart technology.
- Be affordable. That is, able to provide the same level of energy at the same cost (or less) than conventional thermal energy production.
Smart Energy requires research and development. Blox Energy intends to partner existing US-based NGOs dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The other side of our business will identify shortfalls in supply within West Africa and work with bulk power consumers to meet their energy requirements.
Blox Energy will therefore provide the link between smart energy technology producers and end users in ECOWAS.
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) represents an excellent first step towards cleaner energy production. Despite being a fossil fuel, LNG has significant environmental benefits over conventional diesel and even coal-fired electricity generation methods.
LNG produces around 20% less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions than diesel, almost 100% less Sulphur Oxide (SOx) and metal particulates (PM) and 90% less Nitrogen Oxide (NOx).
Despite using 1.6-times the volume of diesel to recover the same amount of energy (Joules), LNG is up to 60% cheaper than diesel (subject to jurisdictional excises and levies).
LNG can be used to replace diesel in a number of applications in addition to power generation. These include domestic heating and cooking, road transport and shipping. A new technology known as solid oxide fuel cells uses LNG and oxygen in a unique ceramic cell to create heat and produce steam to drive a turbine – generating power without combustion, almost emission free. These cells are already powering a number of large corporations and manufacturing facilities in the USA.
Transporting LNG is safe and cost effective. It can be sent to remote locations in quantities capable of supporting large production operations. Such supply chains already exist in a number of countries around the world but are yet to be applied to the ECOWAS region.
With the benefits offered by LNG its use provides a logical point of entry into the clean energy market. Potential income derived by Blox Energy by the implementation of LNG power generation systems can then be applied to 100% smart energy solutions.
LNG may provide the catalyst for Blox Energy to establish itself as a smart energy provider in ECOWAS.