Construction commences on Northern Goldfields solar and battery storage project

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TransAlta has commenced construction on one of the world’s largest off-grid mining solar and battery energy storage systems to help power BHP Nickel West’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations.

Originally announced last year, the Northern Goldfields Solar Project includes a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith, a 10.7 MW solar farm and a 10.1 MW battery at Leinster. Once completed,  it will be connected into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid.

The project, which will replace diesel and gas-fired power at BHP Nickel West’s Mt Keith and Leinster facilities, will help BHP Nickel West to cut scope 2 emissions by 12%,  resulting in a decrease of 54,000 tonnes CO2-e per year.

The project’s construction phase is estimated to generate more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in the Goldfields and Perth regions, with the first solar power scheduled to be generated by November 2022.

The project 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.

Cundaline Resources is an Aboriginal business whose owners include members of the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation.

BHP Nickel West Asset President Jessica Farrell said BHP was determined to meet its commitment to deliver sustainable low carbon nickel to its customers, a product that is in high demand to power batteries and electric vehicles.

“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 cars2 from the road every year, supporting our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” Ms Farrell said.

“It is also very exciting that following years of close engagement with the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders, our project has contracted the services of a local Aboriginal business, boosting opportunities for people in the local community and across the northern Goldfields generally,” she said.

TransAlta Australia Managing Director, Kelvin Koay, said the construction phase of the solar and battery farm was an exciting step for the project.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is TransAlta’s first renewable energy project in Australia and is an important element of our Clean Electricity Growth plan,” he said.

This project contributes to achieving TransAlta’s target of a 75 per cent GHG emissions reduction over 2015 levels by 2026 and 2050 carbon neutrality goal. As a company, we have a strong decarbonisation track record having already achieved a 61 per cent emissions reduction since 2005.”

“We’ve had a long-standing partnership with BHP since the 1990s and we welcome the opportunity to support BHP in meeting its carbon emission targets and in enhancing its competitiveness as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world,” added Mr Koay.

Video: BHP YouTube channel