An aerial view of the solar-plus-storage plant in Carwarp

RayGen has officially opened its solar and long-duration thermal storage plant in partnership with AGL, set to add 4MW of solar generation and 2.8MW/50MWh of storage capacity to the West Murray grid. 

The plant is powered by a field of smart, rotational mirrors whose concentrated solar energy is combined with the energy stored across two water reservoirs to create a ‘hot and cold’ solar hydro solution. 

The plant recently achieved the status of “commissioning complete” and AGL’s offtake agreement with RayGen for the entirety of the plant’s production will soon come into effect.  

The plant is expected to save approximately 7,000t CO₂e emissions per year and is expected to provide enough renewable electricity to power approximately 1,700 average Victorian homes.  

AGL Chief Operating Officer, Markus Brokhof, said that the innovative technology is a possible solution to the challenge of long duration energy storage particularly given its potential to be scaled. 

“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,” Mr Brokhof said.  

“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 in New South Wales.”  

RayGen CEO, Richard Payne, said the storage was critical for congested grids like the one in the West Murray region. 

“RayGen’s thermal storage can be charged with electricity from the grid or RayGen’s hi-tech solar and can store that charge for days, weeks or months with minimal losses. 

“The thermal storage can discharge continuously at full capacity for 17 hours without requiring recharge and can recover when discharging more than 70 per cent of the electricity stored during charging.

“The successful delivery of this project is a remarkable achievement by the RayGen team with the support of our partners, investors, suppliers and contractors, and is truly the culmination of many years of hard work, support and commitment from all of our staff and stakeholders”.

Mr Payne also said that 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.”

ARENA funding

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $10 million in funding to RayGen to progress its hi-tech solar and thermal storage technology along the commercialisation pathway towards a full utility scale deployment.

The funding will help RayGen improve the design of its technology, achieve material cost reductions and conduct a basic and front-end engineering design (FEED) of a planned utility-scale 200 MW solar and 115MW /1.2 GWh storage deployment of its technology in Australia.

RayGen’s upcoming $32.7 million project with ARENA will help to reduce the cost of dispatchable renewable energy and unlock a pipeline of opportunities in Australia and internationally.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the growth of RayGen’s technology will help to address Australia’s future dispatchable electricity and energy storage needs.

“ARENA has supported RayGen for over a decade from early design validation, through to pilot-scale and now progressing to utility-scale assets.

“ARENA plays a critical role by supporting homegrown innovation by helping to validate the technical performance and commercial viability of the technology, which then gives confidence to offtakers, developers and investors,” Mr Miller said.

“Given RayGen’s operating characteristics and cost reduction potential at scale, its solar-and-storage technology could make a significant contribution to addressing Australia’s growing need for dispatchable renewable electricity and longer duration energy storage.”

“We’re excited by the opportunities RayGen’s renewable energy technology offers in helping us get to net zero. As we celebrate the opening of its Carwarp site, we also look forward to supporting RayGen during its next phase.”

Featured image: An aerial view of the solar-plus-storage plant in Carwarp. Image credit: RayGen.

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