BHP has signed a 70 MW baseload renewable energy contract with Neoen to meet 50% of the energy demand of its Olympic Dam mining operations in South Australia.
BHP’s Olympic Dam site, 650 kilometers north of Adelaide, is one of the world’s most significant deposits of gold, uranium, and copper. Copper is an increasingly important material in the renewable energy supply chain, and BHP Olympic Dam’s asset president, Jennifer Purdie, said the mining giant is focused on producing
“South Australia’s high-quality copper to build renewable technologies and infrastructure … more sustainably,” said Purdie.
A baseload contract means continuous power supply, regardless of whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Such contracts in the power purchase agreement space are increasingly common, especially in Nordic states with extensive wind generation portfolios, but the market is also strong in Spain and the United States.
However, the trend is only just beginning in Australia, and utility-scale battery systems are the reason. Neoen said it will deliver a “24/7 green energy solution to the mine, along with the associated large-scale certificates (LGCs).” And it will do this by firming the intermittent wind resources of its 412 MW Goyder South Stage 1 wind farm with storage capacity from its Blyth Battery.
The Blyth Battery received approval this year for up to 300 MW/800 MWh of storage capacity. In August 2022, Neoen announced storage revenues had grown by more than one-third in the last year due to its Australian battery assets – specifically its Victorian Big Battery.
Neoen said this contract is a demonstration that its portfolio of renewable energy and storage assets means it can now offer, “for the first time, firm delivery of green power.” Louis de Sambucy, Neoen Australia’s managing director, said that the company is convinced of its ability to “combine [its] assets and [its] energy management capabilities to create bespoke commercial offers.”
The company’s chairman, Xavier Barbaro, concurred.
“This first baseload PPA is a significant step forward for Neoen and will serve as a template for future contracts, opening up great market opportunities in Australia and in the rest of the world,” said Barbaro.
The Goyder Renewables Zone, of which Goyder South Stage 1 is an under-construction hybrid wind, solar and storage project. It has approval for 1,200 MW of wind, 600 MW of solar generation and 900 MW of battery storage capacity. Construction began on Aug. 25, 2022, and is expected to be operational in 2024.
This is not the first PPA agreement BHP has signed. In 2021, it signed a PPA with Risen Energy for its Nickel West Kwinana refinery in Western Australia. However, the deal was not a baseload contract.
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