Norman Crowley CEO of CoolPlanet and Philip Roche Commercial Director CoolPlanet.

Investing a cool €8 million in new tech

Irish decarbonisation firm CoolPlanet has invested €8m to develop pioneering technology aimed at lowering carbon emissions in the highly polluting but vital mining industry.

The mining industry is currently responsible for 4-7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, with diesel vehicles accounting for 30-50% of carbon emissions at individual mines. However, mining has never been more critical to help reduce global emissions and decouple from fossil fuels, with metal needed for solar panels, batteries and wind turbines.

Founded by Cork businessman Norman Crowley, CoolPlanet is pioneering EV technology specifically for the mining industry, which will help individual mines reduce carbon emissions by 30-50%, with the average mine having around 400 vehicles on site.

The company’s AVA Geo EV technology can be retrofitted into a range of mining vehicles from Toyota and Mitsubishi to Ford, converting them from diesel-powered to electric.

Not only does the vehicle go electric but it is also fitted with advanced driver assistance features that detect a miner’s hard hat and automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to keep the miners safer.

The electrified vehicles will also have full vehicle to load and vehicle to grid capability. This means workers can use the vehicle to operate power tools and the mining companies can use the battery to help balance the national grid when the vehicle is charging.

“The electricity grids of many countries are facing serious challenges, with growing warnings around energy shortages and possible blackouts. If we don’t want more coal-burning power plants, industry will need to help stabilise the grid at peak times,” CoolPlanet founder and group CEO and Clonakilty native Norman Crowley said, adding that the first electrified mining vehicles will be deployed in Q4 of this year.

He said the company had drawn expertise from across every area of the business to create a comprehensive solution to decarbonise mining.

He said: “One of the products to emerge from this process comes from the Formula 1 grade engineering team in Studio AVA – an EV powertrain and vehicle operating system that can be retrofitted into a range of diesel-powered light mining vehicles.

”Apart from the damage to the environment, diesel particulates in mines are incredibly damaging to the health and wellbeing of miners, an issue that would be solved with the deployment of electric mining vehicles. Anyone that commutes to work by bike knows that it can be an unpleasant and risky endeavour, due to smog, fumes and vehicles.

“Now imagine you're one of the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the major mining companies and work underground. You have to inhale the diesel particulate matter (DPM) from an average of 400 vehicles. With vehicle accidents accounting for approximately 30% of all deaths in mining every year, driver safety is a critical issue we’re addressing too.” he added.

Mr Crowley said carbon is now heading to €100 per tonne, meaning global mining companies will have to pay over €1 billion annually in carbon costs for their fleets of light diesel vehicles.

“Not only are they working hard to make mines as safe and clean as possible, but they are now under pressure with new regulations and carbon costs.”