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MASTER'S PROJECT: Evaluating Renewable Energy Options for BHP Billiton's Global Assets



BHP Billiton is seeking to leverage strategic and potential cost advantages associated with renewable energy and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction. The Erb Team will aid in developing a flexible framework with which BHP Billiton can evaluate the feasibility of incorporating renewable sources of energy into its energy portfolio at other facilities. Our objectives are as follows:

  • Develop a financial model that values the incremental costs/savings of employing renewable energy options at BHP Billiton’s facilities compared to base case costs (using 100% conventional grid/fossil fuel energy).
  • Identify and evaluate tangible and intangible factors associated with the proposed energy options. Tangible elements will be factored into the cost analysis. Intangible aspects such as community impact, environmental impact, resource disruptions, etc. will be analyzed qualitatively.
  • Ensure that the framework is aligned with BHP Billiton’s strategic pyramid and corporate values.
  • Provide BHP Billiton with a flexible framework for assessing the technical, economic, and strategic feasibility of employing renewable energy options at its facilities worldwide.
  • Demonstrate the applicability of the framework through applications at three varied facilities.



The Erb Team will focus on developing a flexible framework to assess the feasibility of renewable energy strategies for powering BHP Billiton’s global assets.

The framework will be capable of assessing the following renewable energy options for electricity:

  • Wind
  • Solar Photovoltaics
  • Biomass gasification
  • Bio-oil

The framework will also assess the feasibility of producing biodiesel to power heavy equipment. 

The assessment models will incorporate the following factors:

  • Incremental costs / savings
  • Risk assessment
  • Optionality
  • Community impact
  • Sustainability (economic and environmental)
  • Strategic fit with BHP Billiton

The resulting models and framework will allow for flexibility in order to facilitate feasibility analyses across BHP Billiton's broad array of assets and potential future scenarios.

Scope clarification for Biomass Gasification:

  • Analysis will be limited to the most common and commercially successful feedstocks.
  • Framework will include general outline for locating and assessing feedstocks for biomass gasification, but will not recommend specific feedstocks since they are highly site-specific. 
  • For the three site-specific studies, biomass gasification analysis will include only feedstocks that are locally or regionally available.  
BHP Billiton Marketing V.V.
Research Areas
Energy Systems