Australia to build a world-first solar hydropower plant

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The Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) has announced $3 million in funding to RayGen Resources Pty Ltd (RayGen) to conduct a technical and commercial feasibility study for a 4MW ‘solar hydro’ power plant to be built in north-western Victoria.

In a world-first, the Melbourne based renewable energy startup RayGen is proposing to build a fully dispatchable renewable energy facility that will use their concentrated solar PV technology known as PV Ultra.

This technology will be combined with their Thermal Hydro technology to generate renewable energy and provide large scale energy storage.

The grid-scale power plant is proposed to be built in Carwarp near Mildura capable of providing 4MW of solar generation and 17 hours of storage.

The $6 million first phase will get the project to financial close and shovel ready for construction.

RayGen will be working with AGL and GHD on this initial phase which will include technical and commercial feasibility studies, commercial assessment, a connection agreement, offtake agreements, capital raising and a planning permit for a preferred site.

About the technology

PV Ultra is a tower-mounted, concentrated solar PV technology that combines low-cost solar collection heliostats and high-efficiency solar conversion via PV cells, creating the ability to co-generate electricity and heat. The heat by-product is captured and used to boost the efficiency of the thermal storage element.

The thermal storage technology stores energy as a temperature difference between two water reservoirs. The heat generated from the PV Ultra is used to charge the hot reservoir, whilst the cold reservoir is cooled using an electric chiller supplied with electricity from PV Ultra and the grid.

The stored temperature difference will power an Organic Rankine Cycle engine to generate electricity with a round trip efficiency of 70%.

The size of the storage reservoirs are readily scalable and the water will be recycled and reused.

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