$65 million to supercharge dispatchable renewable energy

The Albanese Government and ARENA are investing $65 million in a ground-breaking solar thermal project, which will boost renewable energy, energy security and decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors.

The grant is going to Vast Solar and their dispatchable solar thermal technology.

The large 30MW / 288 MWh utility-scale plant north of Port Augusta in South Australia will create up to 450 regional jobs during construction and 70 ongoing operational roles in long-term manufacturing, plant operations and maintenance.

The project will use sunlight reflected off thousands of mirrors and transfer the concentrated heat via liquid sodium to molten storage tanks. The stored energy will then be used to generate electricity when it is needed. As well as clean and cheap, energy also needs to be reliable.

Vast Solar’s innovative technology could bolster power supplies nationwide, with long-duration and cost-effective energy storage.

This project could lead to larger installations helping to firm Australia’s grid, providing reliable and cheaper energy at scale, as well as creating opportunities to export the technology and generate more jobs.

The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity, and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said Vast Solar’s home-grown concentrated solar power technology could be a game changer for Australia and the world.

“The scale of the energy transformation underway is massive – it’s great to see an Australian company developing breakthrough technology to create jobs and clean, reliable and affordable power in the regions,” Minister Bowen said.

“Making this technology commercially viable on a larger scale could go a long way to meeting the growing need for dispatchable renewable energy, energy security and longer duration storage.

“Vast Solar is globally recognised as a leader in this technology that will help support our goal of getting the nation’s electricity grid to 82% renewables by 2030.”

This investment follows $19.48 million to Vast Solar as part of the HyGate program to establish a green hydrogen supply chain through the Australia-Germany Hydrogen Accord.

Vast Solar is considering a domestic pipeline of 200 MW of dual generation and storage facilities, opening opportunities to support heavy emitters’ decarbonisation and create more regional jobs.

Renewable energy is by far the cheapest form of energy and the Albanese Government delivering the policy certainty to drive more investment.

Large-scale wind and solar farm investment commitments grew nearly 50 per cent in 2022, the majority of that increase after the May election.

The landmark Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS), agreed with States and Territories after years of delay, will drive around $10 billion investment in clean, dispatchable, and reliable power.

And all of this clean, cheap and reliable and energy will be connected with the Government’s Rewiring the Nation plan, to modernise the electricity grid and meet the demands of the rapidly changing market.

Australia can and should be a renewable energy superpower – powering the Australian economy, and the economies of our trading partners with affordable renewable energy.

Today’s commitment with ARENA and Vast Solar is another example of Australia doing just that.