$3 million for world-first solar hydro power plant

Australian renewable energy start-up RayGen Resources will receive $3 million for a feasibility to test to build a world-first solar power plant near Mildura in north-western Victoria.

The 4 MW / 50 MWh “solar hydro” plant is expected to offer energy storage at a lower cost compared to recent battery projects to supply “critically needed” power to the West Murray region.

RayGen CEO Richard Payne said Australia’s transition into renewables will require energy storage that can store power cost-effectively for up to weeks and be deployable on a large scale around the world.

“RayGen has developed an innovative solar-plus-storage product that captures sunlight with mirrors and stores energy in water,” he said.

“Our technology provides firm renewable power at low cost, while conserving natural resources and our environment.”

The thermal storage developed by RayGen will be applied to the company’s existing PV Ultra technology to store energy as a temperature difference between two reservoirs.

PV Ultra is a tower-mounted, concentrated solar PV technology that combines low-cost solar collection heliostats and high-efficiency solar conversion through PV solar cells to generate electricity and heat at the same time.

Heat generated as a by-product will be captured to improve efficiency.

RayGen has partnered with AGL and GHD on the initial phase of the project, which will include technical and commercial feasibility studies, commercial assessment, a connection agreement and planning permit.

AGL interim executive manager of wholesale markets Dominique Van Den Berg said the company is committed to providing sustainable, secure and affordable energy for Australia.Construction of the project is expected to start this year and aims to be commissioned by 2021.