Located approximately 650 kilometres north of Adelaide, BHP’s Olympic Dam site is one of the world’s most considerable deposits of gold, uranium, and copper.
Copper is an increasingly important material in the renewable energy supply chain, and BHP Olympic Dam asset president, Jennifer Purdie, says the mining giant is focused on producing “South Australia’s high-quality copper to build renewable technologies and infrastructure…more sustainably.”
A baseload contract means continuous power supply regardless of whether the sun is shining or the wind blowing. Such contracts in the power purchase agreement (PPA) space are increasingly common, especially in Nordic states with extensive wind generation portfolios, though the market is also strong in Spain and the US.
However, the trend is only just beginning in Australia, and utility-scale battery systems can be thanked. In a company statement, Neoen says 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 thanks to its Australian battery assets – specifically its Victorian Big Battery coming online coupled with Australia’s energy crisis.
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, says that the company is convinced its ability to “combine our assets and our energy management capabilities to create bespoke commercial offers will be a key element of success for our future developments.”
The company’s chairman, Xavier Barbaro, concurred, adding that “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.”
In Oct. 2021, BHP was poised to sign a very similar “bespoke” renewable energy agreement with the Australian arm of Spanish energy group Iberdrola for the 317 MW Port August Renewable Energy Park in South Australia to supply up to 50% of the miner’s electricity needs for its Olympic Dam mining operation. pv magazine Australia reached out to BHP to confirm the Neoen contract is not in addition to a previous contract with Iberdrola, but is yet to receive a reply.
The Goyder Renewables Zone, of which Goyder South Stage 1 is a part, is an under-construction hybrid wind, solar and storage project that has approval for 1,200 MW of wind, 600 MW of solar generation and 900 MW of battery storage capacity.
Construction on Goyder South Stage 1 began on August 25, 2022, and is expected to be operational in 2024.
This is not the first PPA agreement BHP has signed. In 2021 BHP signed a PPA with Risen Energy to supply the miner’s Nickel West Kwinana refinery in Western Australia with renewable energy from its Merredin Solar Farm. However this was not a baseload contract.