Australian Potash says it will build a solar, wind and battery microgrid at its proposes new Lake Wells potash project north of Leinster in Western Australia that will deliver two thirds of the power needs from renewables.
The company says it has signed a power purchase agreement with PWR Hybrid for the “Lake Wells high renewable energy fraction microgrid” that will be built in stages once the final investment decision on the potash project is made.
PWR Hybrid proposes a 10.7MW gas plant, with 2MW of diesel, 4.5MW of solar, 9MW of wind, and 9MW of battery storage. It says this will result in 65 per cent of the electricity supply coming from renewables.
The gas plant engines will be selected on their ability to utilise both gas and hydrogen, including zero emissions green hydrogen from renewable sources.
Potash Australia CEO Matt Shackleton said several alternative configurations for the microgrid were presented and assessed, and the configuration chosen will help deliver the “greenest” sulphate of potash (SOP) projects in Australia.
More mines are now looking to incorporate wind, solar and battery storage to reduce costs and emissions, driven largely by the demands of overseas and domestic customers.
The big iron ore mines operated by the likes of BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue are adding solar and battery storage to their networks, and on-grid and off-grid mines are installing smaller hybrid arrays to deflect their costs.
The first mine to combine wind, solar and battery storage was the Agnew gold mine owned by Goldfields, (pictured above) which is located in the same area as the Lake Wells project, while others have focused mostly on solar and batteries.
Oz Minerals is looking to supply its proposed $1 billion nickel project in central Australia with a wind, solar and battery hybrid that could account for between 80 and 100 per cent of its electricity needs.