World's largest mining company exploring solar plus storage potential

The outcomes of the substantial climate agreement that was reached in Paris at the end of last year have been wide and varied. The most recent consequence is BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, testing solar and storage, with the goal of revaluating its portfolio in a bid to increase its interest in the global energy transition.

Announced within the company’s Climate Change: Portfolio Analysis Views after Paris paper were a number of ways in which BHP will reassess its portfolio and begin the heavily engage in the global energy transition and the risks associated with climate change. One of the standout points was the company’s planned testing of solar and storage at one of its mining sites in Australia.

BHP will now partner with Origin Energy to test how solar and battery-storage technology can be incorporated into its remote sites. It will use the 13 MW Lakeland Solar and Storage Project in Queensland, Australia, as its Guinee pig. The plant is being developed by Conergy and is expected to be completed in April.

One of the main reasons for this change in outlook is that BHP now expects renewable energy to reach cost parity with traditional energy sources within the next 10 years. It highlighted Chile and Morocco as two places where renewable energy sources can already compete with fossil fuels on cost. Additionally, it pointed to the unprecedented rise in non-hydro renewable generating capacity from China, who invested US$100 billion in the sector in 2015 alone, and the increased interest in electric vehicles, which is pushing battery development.

These developments go hand in hand with the COP21 Paris climate deal, which was more substantial than BHP expected. his has forced the company to increase its interest in the global energy transition and climate risk, so that it can remain an energy player as the global economy continues to transition to clean energy.