$10 million investment will advance and scale up game changer solar and storage technology

The Albanese Government is backing an Australian solar PV and thermal storage technology that could provide clean, dispatchable electricity and assist decarbonisation across the grid.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided RayGen $10 million to scale up its innovative solar PV and electro-thermal storage technology. 

From garage dream to globally significant technology provider - RayGen is yet another example of Australian innovation. Since a pre-commercial scale pilot in 2012, to today’s funding announcement - ARENA’s investment has been incredibly important to RayGen’s success and amounts to over $38 million across six projects.

This potentially game-changing innovation for firming the grid combines its tower-mounted, concentrated solar PV technology with thermal storage capabilities. The system stores hot water produced as a byproduct of PV electricity generation and water cooled with a small portion of the electricity. The hot and cold water are then combined to power a turbine that generates electricity on demand.

Development of the RayGen technology will complement government initiatives, such as the Capacity Investment Scheme, supporting the development of dispatchable capacity and help guard against future price spikes.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the innovative solar and thermal storage technology could offer generators and industry new versatility on the path to decarbonise the economy.

“RayGen is another terrific Australian innovation story. This latest funding into RayGen is just another example of the Albanese Government investing in the technology of the future that we need to power our grid and decarbonise our economy,” Senator McAllister said.

“We know that firmed renewables are the cheapest form of energy. Projects like these will help provide the storage capacity we need to achieve 82% renewables by 2030.  Efficient and cost-effective solar thermal power plants like RayGen’s could help deliver storage across the grid.

“It could provide vital supply during peak demand, longer duration storage, and export to the wholesale market at times of low renewables output. The scalability of technology like this also has off-grid potential to help decarbonise harder-to-abate sectors like mining.”

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Eyeing utility-scale deployment of the clean power plants, RayGen will also complete a front-end engineering design of a prospective 200 MW solar and 115 MW/ 1.2 GWh plant to be built in Australia, as part of the $32.7 million development phase.

PV Ultra is a tower-mounted, concentrated solar PV technology that can co-generate electricity and heat, with the latter used to boost the efficiency of the thermal storage.

Energy is stored as a temperature difference between two water reservoirs, with the stored temperature-difference powering an Organic Rankine Cycle engine.

ARENA has supported the RayGen technology since 2012, providing a total of $38.4 million for demonstrations involving 4 MW solar and 3 MW/50 MWh of thermal storage in Carwarp, Victoria, as well as to develop the PV Ultra technology and build a 1 MW pilot project that’s now powering a Victorian mushroom farm.