A new solar farm in the Northern Goldfields of Western Australia has been switched online thanks to a collaboration between BHP and renewable energy provider TransAlta, which, BHP says, will reduce Scope 2 emissions at the Nickel West northern operations by 12%.
The Northern Goldfields Solar and Battery Storage Facility is one of the world’s largest off-grid mining solar and battery energy storage systems and features about 70,000 solar panels across 90 ha of land.
The initiative, which will replace power currently generated from diesel and gas, will be a significant step towards BHP’s aim to decarbonise its operations by 30% by the 2030 financial year.
It includes a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith, and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, which is integrated into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid.
Construction on the facility began in 2022, creating more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in the Goldfields and Perth regions, and will support ongoing employment during operations.
BHP Australia President, Geraldine Slattery, said: “Renewables are increasingly powering BHP operations around the globe and this facility – the first we have built on one of our sites – is another step forward in our plans to reduce our operational greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by FY30, from FY20 levels.
“Nickel is in high demand for batteries and electric vehicles, and this progress is part of our commitment to delivering more sustainable, lower carbon product to our customers.”
BHP Nickel West Asset President, Jessica Farrell, said the initiative was one of many ways Nickel West was reducing its operational emissions – it was also considering wind farms in the northern and southern Goldfields.
“It’s fantastic to see the Northern Goldfields Solar and Battery Storage Facility switched on,” she said. “It’s on the back of a team of dedicated engineers, technicians and many others bringing new ideas to the table to support the development and integration of reliable and affordable renewable power to our business.
“The initiative will help Nickel West reduce Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions at our northern operations by 12%. This will result in an estimated reduction of 54,000 t of CO2-e per annum – the equivalent of removing 23,000 combustion engine cars2 from the road each year.”
TransAlta’s President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said the company was excited to flick the switch on what was a ground-breaking project for the organisation.
He said: “We are excited to work together with BHP to realise this innovative solution to meet BHP’s renewable electricity needs. This facility represents a first for both companies – it’s BHP’s first on-site, large-scale renewable project globally, and it’s TransAlta’s first renewable energy facility in Australia. It’s also the first time we have combined solar and battery storage to offer a hybrid solution.
“This unique project enabled us to apply the extensive capability and technical knowledge we have to the development of a large-scale facility in a remote part of Western Australia.
“Working under our longstanding relationship with BHP, we were able to collectively solve challenges and break new ground at the same time as playing a part in WA’s exciting and rapidly accelerating transition to a cleaner energy future.”