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Australian technology company RayGen Resources is set to construct what the company is claiming to be the country’s first hybrid solar-hydro power plant in north-west Victoria.

The demonstration project will comprise a 4MW solar PV generation system and 3MW/ 50 MWH (17 hours) of dispatchable storage capacity. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing (AUS)$15 million (US$11.2 million) in funding for the (AUS)$30 million (US$24.4 million) project.

RayGen was selected by the Australian Energy Market Operator through its Integrated System Plan to demonstrate its technology in expanding renewables, as well as flexible and long-duration energy storage within Australia.

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RayGen’s ‘solar hydro’ power plant consists of a proprietary PV Ultra, a concentrating photovoltaic solar co-generation tower, combined with electro-thermal storage. The 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.

Renewable electricity from the project will be exported to the National Electricity Market and will participate in wholesale energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Services markets.

RayGen will use the results of the demonstration project to expand the rollout of its technology across Australia and help the country meet goals set under the Low Emissions Technology Statement of providing renewables for under $100 / MWh. RayGen will use other funding including AUS$27 million (US$20.2 million) in capaital secured from AGL, Chevron Technology, Proton Energy and Schlumberger New Energy and AUS$3 million (US$2.2 million) in grant funding from ARENA to scale-up its production and operations.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller, said; “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.”

ARENA previously supported RayGen with a total of $8.67 million in funding to develop its PV Ultra technology and build the 1MW PV Ultra pilot project in Newbridge, Victoria. The pilot project has been operational for over two years powering a local mushroom farm.