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Next-Generation Solar and Storage Technologies Gain Momentum in Victoria

Next-Generation Solar and Storage Technologies Gain Momentum in Victoria

Renewable energy is no longer a futuristic concept but a critical necessity in our fight against climate change. One of the most promising sectors in renewable energy is solar power, and the state of Victoria in Australia is taking significant steps towards expanding next-generation solar and storage technologies.

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The RayGen solar and thermal hydro storage: A closer look

RayGen Resources Pty Ltd (RayGen) has officially inaugurated its 4 MW of solar and 2.8 MW / 50 MWh (17 hours) of storage capacity to the West Murray grid in a significant development for Australia’s renewable energy landscape. This groundbreaking project power plant in Carwarp in north-western Victoria marks a crucial milestone in Australia’s transition towards sustainable and clean energy solutions. RayGen’s solar and storage technology combines two renewable energy technologies, solar power and thermal hydro storage, to generate electricity efficiently while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The RayGen solar and thermal hydro storage: A closer look

Solar power generation

The heart of the RayGen solar and thermal hydro storage power plant is its concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. CSP technology uses lenses or mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto small, highly efficient solar cells, unlike traditional solar panels. This concentrated sunlight is then converted into electricity. RayGen’s CSP system boasts impressive efficiency, harnessing more sunlight compared to standard solar panels, even in adverse weather conditions.

Thermal hydro storage

What sets the RayGen project apart is its integration of thermal hydro storage. The excess electricity the CSP solar system generates pumps water uphill to a storage reservoir during sunny days. This stored energy is released when needed to generate electricity, acting as a grid-scale battery. Combining solar energy with thermal hydro storage creates a reliable and consistent energy source capable of power even when the sun is not shining.

The plant has been operating since December 2022, exporting electricity day and night. It has also been charging its storage from solar panels and the grid.

The plant is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes. It is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 2,000 tonnes per year.

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Offtake agreement with AGL and was supported by an ARENA grant

Offtake agreement with AGL and was supported by an ARENA grant


RayGen CEO Richard Payne said: “ARENA plays an essential role in supporting the technologies that drive Australia’s renewable energy transition and positioning Australian manufacturing for new global export opportunities.

“RayGen would not be in the position to deliver Australian jobs and put downward pressure on energy prices without ARENA’s ongoing support. We look forward to continuing our relationship with ARENA as we develop upcoming projects throughout Australia.”

“AGL has been a tremendous partner since RayGen entered the energy storage market. AGL’s advice and commercial agreements helped validate our value proposition and focus our technology development on the most important problems to solve.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has recently announced $10 million in funding to RayGen Resources Pty Ltd to progress its CSP technology along the commercialisation pathway. RayGen’s technology uses a novel approach to concentrating sunlight that is more efficient and cost-effective than traditional CSP technologies. The funding will help RayGen improve its technology’s design, achieve material cost reductions, and conduct a basic and front-end engineering design (FEED) of a planned utility-scale 200 MW solar and 115 MW / 1.2 GWh storage deployment of its technology in Australia.

AGL’s Chief Operating Officer said, “We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of RayGen’s solar-plus-storage plant. This innovative approach to long duration energy storage using concentrated PV and thermal hydro storage greatly improves the efficiency and economics of solar plus storage, providing a potential solution for long duration energy storage,” said Mr Brokhof.

“This plant will supply synchronous power with a view to increasing the capacity and flexibility of the local electricity grid.

“We believe this technology has the potential to be deployed at greater scale and we are progressing our plans for a similar solar-plus-thermal storage plant with RayGen at our Liddell site in the Upper Hunter, NSW.”


Source&Images: Australian Government-Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) News, RayGen, AGL Media Releases

Key benefits and significance

One of the most significant advantages of the RayGen solar and thermal hydro storage power plant is its contribution to grid stability. The integration of thermal hydro storage allows excess energy storage during sunny periods and its release during peak demand or cloudy days. This flexibility helps maintain a stable electricity supply to the grid, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based backup power sources.

By harnessing renewable energy and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, the RayGen project plays a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Like many countries, Australia is actively pursuing emissions reduction targets to combat climate change, and projects like this are integral to achieving these goals.

The project also enhances Australia’s energy security by diversifying the energy mix. With solar storage, the RayGen plant can provide a reliable source of electricity, reducing dependence on imported energy sources and mitigating the risk of energy shortages.

RayGen’s solar and storage plant showcases Australia’s commitment to innovation in the renewable energy sector. The project serves as a platform for further research and development in concentrated solar power and hydro storage technologies, potentially driving future advancements and cost reductions in the industry.

The construction and operation of the plant create employment opportunities and support the local economy.

A beacon of hope to shape a greener future

RayGen’s 4 MW Power Plant Carwarp is a remarkable achievement in renewable energy. Its groundbreaking technology enhances energy capture efficiency and addresses the intermittency challenge of solar power. As the world seeks sustainable energy solutions to combat climate change, projects like this offer a beacon of hope, demonstrating the potential for innovative, integrated clean energy systems to shape a greener future.

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