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‘World first’ solar hydro power plant to build in Australia

Out-Law News | 17 Jun 2021 | 9:39 am | 1 min. read

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide A$15 million ($12m) grant funding for a 3 MW/50 MWh solar hydro power plant with 17 hours of storage.

The plant, reported as a “first of a kind”, is being developed by a Victorian technology company RayGen Resources in Carwarp, northwest Victoria.

RayGen’s patented PV Ultra and electro-thermal storage technology, for which a patent is pending, will be used in this project. The technology “offers a renewable, modular and scalable solution to the emerging need for longer duration storage that has been identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator in its Integrated system plan”, said a statement.

Besides ARENA’s funding, RayGen has raised A$27m ($21m) from four companies alongside new and existing investors.

Energy expert George Varma of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “In light of the capacity constraints faced by the NEM over the past few years, this project is an exciting prospect as it a new scalable technology that could go a long way to balancing out the dramatic electricity price fluctuations currently experienced in the market. A flattening of the ‘duck curve’ will benefit everyone and potentially allow more renewable energy to be introduced into the grid by capturing excess energy during peak periods, storing it and pushing it back into the grid when renewable energy production is low.”

Australia’s largest electricity generator AGL will take power from the project. Once operational, the plant will deliver renewable electricity to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and participate in wholesale energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) markets.

It is expected to be operational in one year with an operational design life of 30 years.