BHP Nickel West

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project – Providing a Robust Integrated Renewable Electricity Solution for a Leading Global Resource Company

Summary

This landmark project, commissioned by BHP Nickel West in 2021, heralds a new era of renewable energy generation for TransAlta’s Australian operations and represents BHP’s first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery solution at any of its global operations. TransAlta has had a long-standing partnership with BHP Nickel West, dating back to the 1990s. This project affords TransAlta the opportunity to support BHP in meeting its carbon emission targets and further deepens our relationship. In addition to this project, a new agreement has been reached to identify potential sites for a wind farm that will connect to TransAlta’s existing grid and service BHP Nickel West’s Northern Goldfields operations.

This consolidated sustainable energy solution is being wholly developed, owned, and operated by TransAlta, demonstrating our proven expertise in delivering a tailor-made electricity solution for our customers. The project was executed under the Power Purchase Agreement extended with BHP in October 2020 and will have a term of 16.3 years. 

About BHP Nickel West 

BHP Nickel West is a fully integrated mine-to-market nickel business in Western Australia and the world’s leading nickel supplier to the battery metals market. Nickel is a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries and other growing technologies that will support global decarbonization. The company is a subsidiary of BHP, a world-leading resources company that delivers a resources mix that includes iron ore, copper, nickel, metallurgical coal, and potash that the world needs to grow and decarbonize. 

Our Solution  

To help BHP Nickel West achieve its decarbonization objectives, TransAlta delivered a leading-edge renewable power solution that integrates solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage systems (BESS) into its existing off-grid network. The project fostered a unique, trusted and collaborative approach to project development between TransAlta and BHP, leveraging BHP Nickel West’s existing project approvals, which enabled TransAlta to expedite the project’s delivery, mitigate risks and reduce capital and operating expenses. 

This project sets a groundbreaking record as TransAlta’s first hybrid customized onsite electricity generation for a client. The hybrid solar-battery solution for BHP Nickel West comprises a 27.4 MW solar farm at its Mt Keith operation, and a 10.7 MW solar farm with a 10.1 MW battery storage system at its Leinster operation, displacing power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation. This project showcases TransAlta’s ability to work in close collaboration with its customers and key stakeholders to develop and integrate renewable energy solutions reliably and affordably into remote and off-grid networks and uniquely positions us to support customers’ sustainability goals. 

In addition to creating more than 100 direct and indirect jobs during construction, the project also 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. 

Result

TransAlta’s hybrid solar project will help BHP reach its medium-term target to reduce scope 1 emissions, which are the direct emissions created by its activities, and scope 2 emissions, which are indirect emissions that come from the production of the electricity used in its operations. The hybrid energy solution is expected to reduce BHP’s scope 2 electricity greenhouse gas emissions from its Leinster and Mt Keith operations by 540,000 tonnes of CO2 over the first 10 years of operation.