Australian Potash (ASX:APC) has announced big plans for PWR Hybrid to build, own and operate a 35MW hybrid renewable microgrid at the company’s Lake Wells sulphate of potash (LSOP) project in WA.

The microgrid will integrate a gas-fuelled power station with solar PV, wind and battery energy storage technology – which is expected to achieve a Renewable Energy Fraction (REF) above 65%.

The company says the hybrid facility will become one of the leading remote mine site power installations in the country, supplying energy to Australia’s greenest SOP project.

Australia’s greenest SOP project

“Strategically, we shifted the focus of the LSOP development and operations to a sustainable energy footing to capture and leverage the already low GHG footprint of a solar-salt project,” Australian Potash managing director and CEO Matt Shackleton said.

“With the benefit of time, and rigorous and methodical planning, several alternative configurations for the LSOP microgrid were presented and assessed.”

“We are pleased to appoint a preferred proponent to work with us in developing what will be Australia’s greenest SOP project.”

Staged microgrid development

Australian Potash said the LSOP microgrid will be developed in a staged approach – with the thermal component to be completed within around 15 months of the company making a final investment decision.

Essentially, the timeline ensures power supply preparedness for steady state operations.

The engine selection will be based on the capability to use gas and hydrogen – including zero emissions green hydrogen from renewable sources.

The company expects to finalise the power purchase agreement through the early contractor involvement process, with an improved indicative ‘levelised cost of energy’ (LCOE) to the recently published front end engineer design (FEED) study.

Meeting sustainable finance disclosure standards

The company also commissioned an assessment of the LSOP’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) footprint and a comprehensive Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) audit in preparation for compliance with the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) regime in Europe.

“Our SOP distribution partners operate across global geographies and markets where sustainable industries are valued for their contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases,” Shackleton said.

“Many of these jurisdictions have, or are preparing to adopt, sustainable finance disclosure standards.

“With our vision on the operational future of the LSOP, and therefore our end users, we consider it vital to address sustainable production of SOP as a critical path item.

“To that end, we have commissioned a formal, rigorous ESG audit of the LSOP which will further provide our distribution partners, end users and investors with third party validation of the Project’s ESG qualities.”

Lower GHG footprint than comparative projects

The GHG assessment, takes into consideration the power balance across the project and energy usage through to ports of loading in Western Australia.

And the project is predicted to produce 68% less CO2-e GHG than a comparable Mannheim process and 49% less than equivalent brine SOP projects.

“The LSOP suite of K-BriteTM products are being progressively certified for use in organic agriculture in the world’s most lucrative markets, which when coupled with the very low CO2-e footprint of the Project, will provide our end users with confidence that they are using sustainable products of the highest quality,” Shackelton said.