Renewable projectsin feasibility stage

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Yara Pilbara general manager Chris Rijksen provides several project updates at the Pilbara Economic Development Conference.
Camera IconYara Pilbara general manager Chris Rijksen provides several project updates at the Pilbara Economic Development Conference. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Two major renewable energy projects from fertiliser company Yara Pilbara are in the feasibility stage and could begin production from as early as 2019.

Yara Pilbara general manager Chris Rijksen presented updates on the business’ plans for starting renewable ammonia production and growing vegetables in the Pilbara using greenhouse technology during a sponsor’s address at the Pilbara Economic Development Conference last week.

The Burrup Peninsula-based company’s newest plan for the region is the Renewable Hydrogen Pilot Project, to produce hydrogen, which is used in ammonia production, from a process involving solar power and water electrolysis.

Mr Rijksen said a feasibility study into the project was in the process of being finalised, with detailed engineering and construction expected to take place in 2018 before it started life as a demonstration project in 2019.

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“This first step is really to get experienced with the process, to see how it integrates into our commercial facility so that we can scale up after that,” he said.

“We believe that it could grow to a full replacement of our current natural gas construction by producing hydrogen with a solar field. It could go even a step further. In the long-term future you could think about making it so big that it could be a multiple of the current ammonia production of 800,000 tonnes per year.”

The facility would not be based on the Burrup Peninsula but elsewhere in the Pilbara, to accommodate what could become an expansive project site.

Mr Rijksen said a feasibility study into the Sahara Forest Project, a plan to grow vegetables in the region using solar power and saltwater-cooled greenhouses from a Norwegian company of the same name, was also expected to be completed by February or March next year. If successful, construction for the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and first production in early 2019.

Mr Rijksen said Yara was confident of the initiative’s prospects in the region.

“We are very proud that we are one of the participants in the project and we really believe that this is going to be a successful one,” he said.

Mr Rijksen also spoke about the value Yara placed on having a completely residential workforce in the Pilbara, which he said created a sense of ownership in the community and maximised employee commitment.

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