Mining giant signs PPA with WA’s biggest solar farm


The power purchasing agreement (PPA) began on Monday and will run for 10 years, with the possibility of extension. The agreement is expected to cut the nickel refinery’s electricity emissions by 50% by 2024.

In it’s bid to become more sustainable, the mining giant has hooked onto Merredin Solar Farm, West Australia’s largest completed solar installation with an annual electricity output of 274GWh.  The project is also one of the state’s newest, connecting to the grid in 2020.

The solar farm is owned and operated by Chinese module supplier and project developer Risen Energy, and being run by the company’s Australian branch. Risen seeking to become a major player in Australia’s renewable energy production space. It’s two assets, the 132 MWdc Merredin Solar Farm in WA and its 121 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland, are the first steps in its ambitions to eventually deliver 2 GW of renewable energy to the Australian market.

“This agreement will bolster current and future Western Australian renewable projects. We look forward to welcoming many more clean energy partnerships to power manufacturing, minerals processing and other Western Australian industries,”John Zhong, Vice General Manager of Risen Energy Australia said in a statement.

The PPA marks the first renewable energy agreement of its kind signed by BHP in Western Australia and specifically sources 100% of the contracted energy from solar sources. The move is part of the company’s strategy to decrease its emissions, which has already seen BHP sign PPAs to cover operations in Queensland last year and also in Chile the year before that. Its Nickel West operations in the Goldfields, including the mine and smelter operated there, are attached to a partial PPA with Southern Cross Energy, which was extended last year.

Western Australia’s Minister for Mines, Petroleum and Energy, Bill Johnston, congratulated the move. “BHP’s Kwinana nickel refinery is a key contributor to WA’s future battery industry, and is helping global efforts to decarbonise. The McGowan Government is supportive of mining and resources companies that embrace clean energy solutions,” Johnston said in a statement.

“Nickel is a future-facing commodity, and sustainable nickel production is essential to meet future demand. This contract, the sulphide nature of our nickel deposits, and our integrated value chain increases our position as one of the least carbon intensive nickel miners in the world,” BHP’s Nickel West Asset President, Eddy Haegel, added in the statement.

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