BHP, TransAlta to Build $54 M Solar+Storage Project in Western Australia

Highlights :

  • Mining giant BHP has commissioned a 48.2 MW solar-plus-storage hybrid power facility to help power its Nickel West operations.
  • This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 per cent, based on FY2020 levels, said the company.

Anglo-Australian mining company BHP and its power partner in the Goldfields, TransAlta, are to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster nickel mines in Western Australia. This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 per cent, based on FY2020 levels, said the mining giant in a recent statement.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation.

This will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the first 10 years of operation, which is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, said the company.

BHP commissioned the solar farms and battery to be built, owned, and operated by Canadian independent power producer TransAlta Renewables as part of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) extension signed in October 2020. Construction will commence in Q2 FY2022, is expected to take 12-14 months, and at its peak will employ over 100 people on site. The project is estimated to cost AU$73 million (US$54 million).

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel said, “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 percent, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.

“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”

TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said, “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”

The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from its operated assets by at least 30 per cent from FY2020 levels by FY2030, said the company.

The project is subject to final WA state government approvals.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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