$10m ARENA grant backs new solar plant in Victoria

Brandon How

Solar PV and thermal storage firm RayGen has been awarded $10 million to improve technology design, lower production costs, and undertake studies in support of a project being deployed in Victoria.

The money will be used in part to support basic and front-end engineering design studies for a utility-scale 200MW solar and 115MW/1.2GWh storage. When constructed, the facility will be the firm’s second power plant.

RayGen’s technology consists of a central receiver of photovoltaic modules surrounded by a field of tracking mirrors that focus reflected sunlight onto the module.

Energy is stored in two water pits, one filled with hot water and the other with cold. When the stored energy is required, the temperature difference drives a turbine by evaporating and condensing ammonia.

The $32.7 million project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Australian arm of German conglomerate Bosch, German renewable energy semiconductor manufacturer AZUR SPACE Solar Power, and contractor Worley.

The grant was announced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister on Thursday. On the same day, RayGen opened a 4MW solar and 2.8MW/50MWh storage project in Carwarp, Victoria.

RayGen’s power plant in Carwarp. Image: RayGen

RayGen will also scale the design of its Carwarp facility to develop the capability to deploy “repeatable ‘blocks’ of 50 MW solar, 29 MW/ 350 MWh storage capacity for large-scale deployment,” according to ARENA.

Separately, RayGen is building Australia’s largest solar module manufacturing facility in Victoria. It expects to have an initial annual production output of 170MW worth of solar module capacity, with long-term plans to expand to GW capacity.

ARENA previously awarded a $15 million grant in March 2021 to support the development of the Carwarp facility and the expansion of RayGen’s manufacturing facility. Overall, ARENA has committed $38.4 million across six RayGen projects since 2012.

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said that RayGen’s technology would help meet Australia’s future dispatchable electricity and energy storage needs.

“ARENA has supported RayGen for over a decade from early design validation, through to pilot-scale and now progressing to utility-scale assets,” Mr Miller said.

“ARENA plays a critical role by supporting homegrown innovation by helping to validate the technical performance and commercial viability of the technology, which then gives confidence to offtakers, developers and investors.”

RayGen chief executive Richard Pyne welcomed ARENA’s continuing support and praise its role in supporting local manufacturing targeting global export opportunities.

“RayGen would not be in the position to deliver Australian jobs and put downward pressure on energy prices without ARENA’s ongoing support. We look forward to continuing our relationship with ARENA as we develop upcoming projects throughout Australia,” he said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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