Alinta gives green light for WA solar and battery project


Alinta Energy on Tuesday announced it had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with BHP which will see the construction of a 45 MW solar farm and 35 MW battery energy storage system near the utility’s existing power station at Port Hedland on Western Australia’s north coast.

The announcement comes after Alinta earlier this year submitted development plans proposing to build a 90 MW solar farm and a big battery near its gas-fuelled Port Hedland Power Station (PHPS), approximately five kilometres south-west of the Pilbara town.

Alinta Energy managing director and chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said the deal with BHP will underpin the development of a 45 MW solar PV facility and associated battery energy storage system. It will also involve the development of a combined underground and overground 33 kV connection to the existing PHPS switchyard.

“We’re excited to get the project underway and thank BHP for their partnership and vision,” Dimey said.

Construction of the solar farm, subject to final regulatory approvals, is expected to begin in December 2022, generating an estimated 200 jobs.

Once completed, the solar farm is expected to supply 100% of the average daytime energy requirements for BHP’s iron-ore operations in Port Hedland, with the remaining power requirements to be met through the integrated battery system and Alinta’s existing gas-fuelled power station.

BHP expects the deal will cut the operation’s energy emissions in half by the end of 2024, helping the miner to reduce operational emissions by at least 30% from financial year 2020 levels by 2030 and achieve its long-term goal of net zero operational emissions by 2050.

“We are committed to supplying iron ore more sustainably while investing in WA and creating local jobs,” BHP’s WA iron ore asset president Brandon Craig said.

BHP and Alinta have also signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Shay Gap wind farm, a 45 MW project with a potential first-generation date of 2027.

BHP in recent years has signed power purchase agreements to provide renewable energy to BHP’s Nickel West operations in Western Australia, Olympic Dam operations in South Australia, BMA operations in Queensland and the Escondida copper mine in Chile.

The agreement with Alinta follows BHP’s recent PPAs to provide renewable energy for its Olympic Dam operations in South Australia and Nickel West operations in WA’s Northern Goldfields region. The miner has also commenced construction of its first large-scale off-grid renewable energy project, a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW/5.4 MWh battery energy storage system being developed at its nickel operations at Leinster in WA.

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