ARENA supports scale-up of concentrated solar

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Thursday, 28 September, 2017

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $4.8 million to support solar technology company RayGen with the commercialisation of its PV Ultra solar power system, including construction of a 0.5 MW concentrated solar PV demonstration project.

Concentrated solar PV involves converting concentrated light directly into electricity, with PV Ultra based around a combination of low-cost mirrors and high-efficiency solar cells. The technology comprises a field of wireless mirrors that track the sun and deliver a concentrated light beam onto the high-efficiency photovoltaic receiver. It requires just 4 m2 of photovoltaic material per MW and 2500 m2 of mirrors; by contrast, standard silicon PV requires 5000 m2 of photovoltaic material per MW.

Raygen’s demonstration site, to be located in Newbridge, Victoria, will consist of two grid-connected 250 kW fields and be used to power a local organic mushroom farm. The demonstration will allow RayGen to collect performance data, including efficiency, power and energy, to provide ‘bankable data’ required to support the further take-up of concentrated solar PV by suppliers, investors and customers.

A scalable manufacturing plant will also be upgraded to support deployment of RayGen’s technology in two initial projects in China with a combined 11 MW capacity.

RayGen founder Dr John Lasich said ARENA’s funding will help further RayGen’s plans to bring PV Ultra to the marketplace, stating, “We’re excited to be manufacturing concentrated solar PV in Australia and deploying this technology into the Australian and global marketplace at precisely the time where there is huge demand for large-scale solar power.

“With proven high efficiency and ultralow manufacturing cost, we see this as having huge potential, as we are on track to delivering the lowest cost solar power.”

RayGen Executive Chairman David Sutton added that the extra support will help to create local jobs in Victoria, noting, “Automated manufacture of our small but ultrapowerful PV module underpins a capital light business model which sidesteps the normal constraints of high capital and overhead costs. This will create local high-tech jobs while producing a competitive product for export.”

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