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RayGen receives ARENA funding for first “solar hydro” power plant


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $15 million in funding to RayGen Resources to construct a “solar hydro” power plant, the first of its kind comprising 4MW of solar PV generation and 3MW dispatchable storage capacity in Victoria. 

The RayGen “solar hydro power plant consists of the company’s proprietary PV Ultra, a concentrating photovoltaic solar co-generation tower, combined with its patented electro-thermal storage. The concentrated PV technology generates heat as a by-product, then captured and used for thermal storage. 

The electro-thermal storage system consists of an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine, industrial chillers and two insulated water-based thermal storage pits or reservoirs, each roughly the size of four Olympic sized swimming pools. One of the reservoirs is kept at a temperature of 90 degrees, the other at 0 degrees, which enables dispatchable electricity to be generated using the ORC turbines. 

RayGen’s solar hydro technology offers a renewable, modular and scalable solution to the need for longer duration storage, identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator in its Integrated System Plan. 

The $30M project includes a fully dispatchable renewable energy facility and a new manufacturing facility to allow preparation for forecast growth and expansion of the project pipeline in Australia. 

RayGen expects that subsequent larger scale projects will achieve the Low Emissions Technology Statement stretch goal of providing firmed renewables for under $100/MWh. 

The demonstration scale facility will be in Carwarp, Victoria and will export renewable electricity to the National Electricity Market (NEM). Once operational, the project will participate in wholesale energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) markets. 

Raygen has successfully completed a capital raise for $27M in equity, from parties such as AGL, Chevron Technology Ventures, Photon Energy and Schlumberger New Energy, among others. An offtake agreement has also been negotiated with AGL. 

The project builds on a feasibility study and development work supported by an ARENA grant of $3M, announced in March 2020. 

The success of RayGen’s technology provides the opportunity to address Australia’s emerging longer duration storage needs, ARENA CEO Darren Miller said. 

RayGen’s technology has many benefits for the energy market as we continue the energy system transformation being driven by renewables,” Miller said. 

Much like combining pumped hydro and a traditional solar farm, RayGen’s technology can provide longer duration firming for renewable energy generation. We are particularly interested in the potential for RayGen’s technology to deliver firmed renewable energy at a very competitive cost. 

“ARENA has been a strong supporter of RayGen for many years now and we are really pleased to be supporting an Australian company at the cutting edge of renewable energy innovation, he said. 

ARENA previously supported RayGen with a total of $8.67M in funding to develop its PV Ultra technology and build the 1 MW PV Ultra pilot project in Newbridge, Victoria. The pilot project has been operational for over two years, powering a local mushroom farm. 

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