‘Low cost’ innovative long-duration solar-plus-storage project to begin construction in Australia

Released: June 8, 2021, 5:27 am

Rendering of what the ‘PV Ultra’ towers will look like at the Carwarp, Victoria project. Image: RayGen Resources.

In Australia, construction is due to begin on a grid-scale power generation and long-term storage project that combines solar power and thermal energy storage after the company behind the project announced this morning that funding has been secured.

Technology provider and developer RayGen Resources has closed a Series C funding round of A $ 42 million ($ 32.54 million), including A $ 27 million in private investment and A $ 15 million in grants from the Australian National Agency for renewable energies (ARENA).

RayGen’s solution combines concentrating solar energy (CSP) and solar photovoltaics (PV) in a CHP technology that the company calls PV Ultra. RayGen is used in conjunction with a novel electrothermal storage technology that uses hot and cold water storage tanks to power an organic Rankine cycle engine and claims it can store and discharge energy for 17 hours. The two water storage tanks, one of which is heated with the CSP system and the other is cooled with PV electricity, operate the turbines of the Rankine cycle motor in order to convert the steam generated from the temperature difference into mechanical energy.

In Newbridge, a city in the Australian state of Victoria, a 1MWac demonstration project has been in operation for six years. The new project, which is about to begin construction, includes 4 MW solar power with 3 MW / 50 MW energy storage in Carwarp, another city in the state. The system will feed energy into the West Murray region’s grid, which in 2020 was classified as overloaded by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) due to the large amount of electricity already being fed into the grid.

ARENA helped fund a feasibility study for the project, which Energy-Storage.news reported back in March last year, and the agency said this week that RayGen expects the technology to become competitive with large batteries and pumped storage power plants. It targets costs below AU $ 100 per megawatt hour, which is in line with a target set in the Australian Government’s Low Emissions Technology Statement.

Rendering of other components including an organic Rankine cycle turbine that converts thermal energy from hot and cold water tanks into electricity. Image: RayGen Resources.

Investors include Chevron and Australian utility AGL is considering technology to replace coal-fired power plants

Investors joining RayGen’s financing round include some big names: the major Australian energy company AGL and the US oil company Chevron, the US oil field service company Schlumberger and the European-Australian solar PV developer Photon Energy, the last one Year acquired a minority stake in RayGen and works with the company on project development and as an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partner.

AGL will take over the power of the facility and is now also conducting a feasibility study to see if a similar but much larger system could be installed at AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power plant, which is slated to be phased out by April 2023.

Schlumberger’s new energy department is now looking into how the technology could be adapted to export green hydrogen and ammonia. Chevron invested in RayGen through its Future Energy Fund II, which focuses on promising low-carbon technology startups, and the oil company’s VP of Innovation and President of Technology Ventures said the technology “has the potential to impact long-term energy storage and” Network stability “.

“RayGen’s technology has the potential to deliver the same capabilities as other long-term storage technologies at a lower cost and with fewer geographic restrictions,” said Graeme Hunt, managing director and CEO of AGL.

“We believe the technology can be just as successful in the Hunter region and is a key element of our plans to turn the Liddell site into an energy hub, alongside grid-scale batteries and a waste incinerator.”

RayGen Power Plant Carwarp is expected to have a 30 year lifespan and should only take one year to build and go into commercial operation. The company will also use funds to build a 100 MW annual PV ultra module manufacturing facility and work on developing a 1 GWh + pipeline of potential projects.

“RayGen’s innovative integration of solar and long-term energy storage offers great promise as a reliable and environmentally friendly energy source for a wide range of industrial processes,” said Tyler Durham, director of Schlumberger New Energy for CCS.

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