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$65 million to supercharge renewable energy in Australia

ARENA has approved $65 million in funding to Vast Solar to construct VS1, a first-of-a-kind concentrated solar power plant in Port Augusta, SA.

ARENA has approved $65 million in funding to Vast Solar to construct VS1, a first-of-a-kind 30 MW/288 MWh concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Port Augusta, South Australia.

VS1 is expected to take two years to build with commercial operations commencing late 2025.

The $203 million project seeks to demonstrate the technical and operational performance of Vast Solar’s modular CSP technology at utility scale to unlock further investment in future projects and provide another pathway for Australian industry to decarbonise.

The project will aim to demonstrate how CSP can provide a reliable and scalable dispatchable renewable energy solution in the Australian market.

ARENA has supported the Vast Solar technology since 2012, including providing $9.9 million in funding towards the 1.1 MW CSP Pilot Plant in Jemalong, New South Wales.

The innovations in Vast Solar technology, including the modular design, the use of sodium as the heat transfer fluid and patented control systems, allow the generation of higher temperature heat and a greater reliability of performance than traditional CSP technologies.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the expansion of Vast Solar’s technology into a commercial scale project shows that CSP technology could play an important role in generating and storing renewable energy at scale.

“With the increasing need for dispatchable renewable generation and longer duration energy storage, CSP has potential to assist Australia’s energy transition alongside pumped hydro and large scale batteries,” Miller said.

“Vast Solar’s global recognition as a leader in CSP technology innovation, combined with its significant technical and commercial expertise, mean that it is well placed to deliver Australia’s first large scale CSP plant which should deliver power at a cost competitive with other forms of renewable generation.”

Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar said: “We are grateful for ARENA’s long-term support. Their understanding of the potential of our CSP technology is a testament to the Australian Government’s ambition to deliver cost-competitive dispatchable renewable energy to help uphold emissions reductions goals while supporting local jobs and industry.”

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