BHP says solar and big battery to power nickel mines as renewables come to customers

close up of solar farm

Multinational mining, metals and petroleum giant BHP has announced plans to build two solar farms and a battery energy system to power its Nickel West mining operation in Western Australia. The announcement follows a deal inked with electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla that will see BHP provide Australian nickel to the company.

Headquartered in Melbourne, BHP is one of the largest mining companies in the world. The project marks the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

The first half of 2021 saw renewable energy hit all-time highs in Australia, as the country moves further away from fossil fuels. The accessibility of green power in Australian homes continues to grow as the cost of renewable energy sources decline. Over 2 million Aussie homes have rooftop solar systems installed, while a further 32 large-scale solar projects were completed last year around the country.

The project will help cut BHP’s dependence on diesel and gas, as the company aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. BHP has also entered into a power purchasing agreement that will soon see its Queensland mines powered by 50% renewable energy.

The deal with Tesla will see BHP supply the tech giant with nickel from the Nickel West mining operation in WA, which it claims is one of the most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel plants in the world. The nickel will, in part, be used in Tesla’s batteries that power electric vehicles.

The solar farms and battery energy system, which still await final approvals from the Western Australian government, are planned to begin construction in early 2022 with a 12-14 month timeline.

More renewable projects in Australia

BHP’s announcement is one of many renewable energy projects currently planned or in construction in Australia.

Just last week, Australia’s biggest battery was registered in Victoria and is now able to commence partial operation while installation is completed. Queensland’s first big battery was also registered to begin partial operations.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has set itself the goal of being able to support 100% renewable energy on the grid by 2025, as more Australian homes and businesses move towards sustainable power sources.

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