Solar project to power BHP

clean energy

Construction has begun at one of the world’s largest off-grid mining solar and battery energy storage systems to power BHP Nickel West’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project, which was announced last year, includes a 27.4-megawatt (MW) solar farm at Mt Keith, a 10.7 MW solar farm and a 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, which will be integrated into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid.

The project will replace power currently supplied by diesel and gas, and will help BHP Nickel West reduce scope 2 emissions at its Mt Keith and Leinster operations by 12 per cent, resulting in an estimated reduction of 54,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

The project is expected to produce its first solar power by November this year.

“The Northern Goldfields solar project is BHP’s first off-grid large-scale renewable energy project across our global operations and, significantly, will remove the equivalent of up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, supporting our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” BHP Nickel West asset president Jessica Farrell said.

“It is also very exciting that following years of close engagement with the Tjiwarl Native Title holders, our project has contracted the services of a local Aboriginal business, boosting opportunities for people in the local community and across the northern Goldfields generally.”

The construction phase of the project is set to create more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in the Goldfields and Perth regions.

The project aims to employ Traditional Owners from the Tijwarl Native Title Holders following TransAlta’s contractor, juwi, awarding Cundaline Resources with the primary civil contractor role on the project.

TransAlta also unveiled it had entered into an agreement with BHP to identify potential wind sites for a 40 to 50MW wind farm, which would connect to TransAlta’s northern grid and reduce scope 2 emissions at BHP’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations by an estimated further 30 per cent.

“The Northern Goldfields solar project is TransAlta’s first renewable energy project in Australia and is an important element of our Clean Electricity Growth plan,” TransAlta Australia managing director Kelvin Koay said.

“This project contributes to achieving TransAlta’s target of a 75 per cent greenhouse emissions reduction over 2015 levels by 2026 and 2050 carbon-neutrality goal.

“As a company, we have a strong decarbonisation track record having already achieved a 61 per cent emissions reduction since 2005.”

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