Northern Goldfields solar and battery system goes live


TransAlta has announced that the 48.2 MW Northern Goldfields solar and battery storage facility has achieved commercial operation and is now supplying electricity to BHP’s Nickel West mining operations near Mt Kieth, about 1,000 kilometres northeast of Western Australian (WA) capital Perth.

The project comprises a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW/5.4 MWh battery energy storage system at nearby Leinster, all of which is now integrated into TransAlta’s existing 169 MW Southern Cross Energy North remote network.

TransAlta, which owns and will operate the facility as part of a power purchase agreement (PPA) extension signed in 2020, said the Northern Goldfields project is one of the largest off-grid solar and battery energy storage systems in the world with about 70,000 solar panels deployed across 90 hectares of land.

TransAlta President and Chief Executive Officer John Kousinioris said the ground-breaking project had delivered a number of firsts for the organisation.

“This facility represents a first for both companies – it’s BHP’s first on-site, large-scale renewable project globally, and it’s TransAlta’s first renewable energy facility in Australia,” he said.

“It’s also the first time we have combined solar and battery storage to offer a hybrid solution.”

BHP Australia President Geraldine Slattery said the Northern Goldfields solar and battery storage system, which will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, will play a significant part in helping the miner decarbonise its operations in WA.

Slattery said the facility will help BHP reduce scope 2 emissions at its Leinster and Mt Keith operations by 12%, eliminating an estimated 540,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the first 10 years of operation.

“Renewables are increasingly powering BHP operations around the globe and this facility – the first we have built on one of our sites – is another step forward in our plans to reduce our operational greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by FY30, from FY20 levels,” she said.

BHP said the Northern Goldfields Solar and Battery Storage Facility is just one of many ways Nickel West is reducing its operational emissions – it is also considering wind farms in the northern and southern Goldfields.

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