Published on 16th June 2021
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has announced $15 million in funding for RayGen Resources Pty Ltd to build a first-of-its-kind 'solar hydro' power plant in north-west Victoria, with 4 MW of solar PV generation and 3 MW / 50 MWh (17 hours) of dispatchable storage capacity.
RayGen's 'solar hydro' power plant combines RayGen's revolutionary electro-thermal storage with its proprietary PV Ultra, a concentrating photovoltaic solar co-generation tower. As a by-product of RayGen's concentrated PV technology, heat is generated, which is captured and used for thermal storage. An Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine, industrial chillers, and two insulated water-based thermal storage pits or reservoirs, each about the size of four Olympic-size swimming pools, make up the electro-thermal storage system. The temperature difference between one reservoir and the other, which is kept at 90 degrees and the other at close to 0 degrees, is used to generate dispatchable electricity using ORC turbines.
RayGen has been using this technology in its 1 MW pilot project in Newbridge, Victoria, for more than two years, thanks to ARENA funding. RayGen is expected to be able to meet the Low Emissions Technology Statement stretch goal of providing firmed renewables at under $100 per MWh thanks to the increased scale of the Carwarp facility.
RayGen's 'solar hydro' technology provides a renewable, modular, and scalable answer to the Australian Energy Market Operator's Integrated System Plan's rising requirement for longer-term storage.
RayGen will be able to prepare for expected development and extension of its project pipeline in Australia with this fully dispatchable renewable energy facility and a new manufacturing facility as part of the $30 million project.
The demonstration-scale project will be built near Mildura, Victoria, and will export renewable energy to the National Electricity Market (NEM). Once operational, the plant will be eligible for Large-scale Generation Certificates and will participate in wholesale energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) markets.
AGL, Schlumberger New Energy, Photon Energy, and Chevron Technology Ventures, as well as new and current investors, helped the firm raise $27 million in stock. RayGen has also reached an agreement with AGL for the project's offtake.
The project builds on the results of a feasibility study and development work funded by a $3 million ARENA grant announced in March 2020.