BHP commissions two new solar farms to help power its Nickel West operations

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BHP and TransAlta have unveiled plans to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power BHP’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations.

BHP said 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.

The project, which will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, is expected to help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, based on FY2020 levels.

The solar farms and battery will be built, owned, and operated by TransAlta as part of the power purchase agreement (PPA) extension with BHP signed in October 2020.

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel said the project will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 tonnes of CO2e over the first 10 years of operation – the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world,” Mr Haegel said.

“It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, 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.”

According to BHP’s statement, construction will commence in Q2 FY2022, is expected to take 12-14 months, and at its peak will employ over 100 people on site.

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