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Funding secured for world-first ‘solar hydro’ power plant

The Victorian Government has released new planning guidelines for large scale solar farms to inform decision makers, developers and communities.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding the construction of a new solar hydro power plant that addresses the need for longer duration energy storage.

The Agency will provide $15 million in funding to RayGen Resources to build the power plant, which will comprise of four-megawatts or solar photovoltaic generation and three-megawatts/ 50 megawatts hours (17 hours) of dispatchable storage capacity in north-west Victoria.

RayGen’s ‘solar hydro’ power plant uses a proprietary system that combines a concentrating photovoltaic solar co-generation tower and patented electro-thermal storage.

RayGen’s concentrated PV technology generates heat as a by-product which is 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 size swimming pools. One of the reservoirs is kept at a temperature of 90 degrees and the other at close to 0 degrees, and the temperature difference is used to generate dispatchable electricity using ORC turbines.

The $30 million project includes this fully dispatchable renewable energy facility as well as a new manufacturing facility that will allow RayGen to prepare for forecast growth and expansion of its project pipeline in Australia.

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The demonstration scale facility will be located in Carwarp, Victoria near Mildura, and will export renewable electricity to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

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

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

“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.”

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