BHP Plans to Install 20,000 Solar Panels at Its Nickel Operations in WA

BHP Plans to Install 20,000 Solar Panels at Its Nickel Operations in WA
A BHP Nickel West operation. Image: BHP

BHP has installed the first solar panels at the Leinster Nickel Operation in the Northern Goldfields, as part of its first-ever large-scale off-grid renewable energy project.

As one of Australia’s largest carbon emitters, the significance of BHP working on its first off-grid renewable energy project is quite large. The mine sites that this renewable energy will service dig for battery metals like nickel and sulphide, which go along to service the renewable and clean energy supply chain in electric vehicles or in grid batteries.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is BHP’s first off-grid large-scale renewable energy project across our global operations and, significantly, will remove the equivalent of up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, supporting our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Jessica Farrell, BHP Nickel West’s asset president.

The first solar panels are being installed this week at the Leinster Nickel Operation. The company plans to have more than 20,000 solar panels installed at this site by the end of 2022. BHP has dubbed it the “Northern Goldfields Solar Project”, and is being constructed in tandem with TransAtla.

The plan is to build a 10.7mW solar farm and a 10.1mW battery at the main site, with a supportive 27.4mW solar farm at the Mount Keith Nickel Operation. That’s quite a significant amount of energy generation, perfect for a private operation but probably not powerful enough to run more than that.

This project will phase out the current energy sources of the sites, currently serviced by diesel and gas, with the intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Mount Keith and Leinster sites by 12 per cent.

TransAtla is also working with BHP on scouting out an ideal wind energy site, for a 40 to 50mW project, to further reduce emissions at both sites.