BHP nickel refinery hooks up with the biggest photo voltaic farm within the West – pv journal Australia

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In one of the first renewable energy purchase agreements (PPAs) of 2021, BHP signed a contract this month Ascended energy for the Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia to meet up to 50% of the electricity miner’s needs for the Nickel West Kwinana refinery over the next 10 years.

At 100 MWdc Merredin Solar Farm is the largest completed to date in Western Australia and has been exporting to the South West Interconnected System at full capacity since August 2020.

Nickel West’s bundled PPA (which combines tradable large-scale generation certificates with the purchase of electricity) began on February 1 and will displace around 364,000 tons of CO2 over the term of the contract. There is also the possibility of an extension beyond the planned end date of 2031.

The Merredin Solar Farm is currently the largest in Western Australia. Together with the 100 MW Yarranlea solar farm in Queensland, it forms the basis for owner Risen Energy’s efforts to install 2 GW of green energy in Australia.

Image: Ascended Energy

Enabling a Nickel Battery Economy in Australia

Western Australian Minister for Mining and Petroleum, Energy and Labor Relations, Bill Johnston, highlighted the importance of nickel to renewable energy when congratulating BHP on its initiative, saying, “BHP’s Kwinana nickel refinery is an important contribution to the future battery industry WA. and supports global efforts towards decarbonization. “

“Nickel is a forward-looking commodity and sustainable nickel production is critical to meeting future demand,” said Eddy Haegel, asset president, BHP Nickel West.

BHP supports this statement, reporting that it sells 75% of its nickel production to global battery manufacturers and estimates that the cumulative demand for nickel in batteries will be 250-350% higher over the next 30 years than it has been over the last three decades of global efforts to decarbonise traffic by switching to battery electric vehicles.

Concluding the Risen Energy deal, Haegel said: “This contract, the sulphide nature of our nickel deposits and our integrated value chain strengthen our position as one of the least carbon-intensive nickel miners in the world.”

BHP’s nickel sulfate plant at its Kwinana nickel refinery is expected to start production this quarter, according to BHP’s latest annual report.

Reduction in mining costs

The increased PPA will help BHP achieve a medium-term target of 30% reduction in emissions from Scope 1 and 2 by 2030 based on the adjusted level for fiscal year 2020. and contribute to its long-term goal of achieving net zero operating emissions by 2050.

The negotiated competitive pricing of the contract will also reduce the Kwinana Refinery’s electricity bill by up to 20%.

PPAs increasingly support the development of renewable energies

In 2020, 26 renewable PPAs were announced where a buyer agrees to purchase energy and / or LGCs at a fixed price from a solar or wind farm Business Renewables Center Australia (BRC-A), which advises and supports companies that view PPAs as part of their emissions reduction strategies and often offers income security to investors in renewable projects that are under development.

Last year these PPAs included companies like Coles Supermarkets support the development of the Western Downs Green Power Hub in Queensland; and the City of Adelaide, which has entered into an agreement with the electricity trader FlowPower for the supply of a renewable solar-wind mix.

In total, 1.3 GW of renewable energy was generated from PPA contracts in 2020, helping the development of more than 4.5 GW of renewable energy generation at a time when renewable energy trade and retail investments were declining.

That weekend, Dr. Chris Briggs, BRC-A’s technical director, said corporate PPAs represented more than 40% of the decline in the renewable energy market “in recent quarters”, an “unexpected result” given the pandemic and the ensuing recession.

Sustainability goals and REZs continue to drive the PPA boom

He said the continued growth in demand for PPAs “will be supported by buyers with sustainability goals or policy objectives and / or those who have a longer-term perspective on the value of the PPA as a hedge against volatile electricity prices.”

Briggs has government-sponsored renewable energy zones (REZ) designed to encourage an ongoing pipeline of PPAs. He says that “facilitating PPAs between local industry and solar and wind farms has been identified by governments as a priority in supporting economic development, sharing benefits within REZ and developing a social license for development in regional areas “.

Merredin Solar Farm PPA is BHP’s first with a renewable generator in Western Australia. This is followed by the miner’s signing of a 5-year period in September last year semi-renewable energy PPA (combining the power of solar, wind, water and gas) with the Queensland government-run CleanCo to offset some of the electricity used in the state’s coal mines.

Risen Energy, a Chinese PV module manufacturer, acquired the then-fledgling Merredin solar park in 2018 and continued funding and technical design by installing around 360,000 Risen Energy solar modules and running the solar park to deliver 2 GW cleaner Energy to Australia, ”said John Zhong, Risen Energy’s local vice general manager.

He added, “This agreement will support current and future renewable energy projects in Western Australia. We look forward to welcoming many more clean energy partnerships in power generation, minerals processing and other Western Australian industries. “

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