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The Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) has announced $3 million in funding 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, Melbourne based renewable energy startup, RayGen, is proposing to build a fully dispatchable renewable energy facility that will use their innovative concentrated solar PV technology known as PV Ultra and combine it with its 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 the 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.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said RayGen’s solution could complement other more traditional forms of storage such as grid-scale batteries and pumped hydro.

“With ARENA’s funding, RayGen is aiming to progress this project to be shovel ready by the end of this year and to prove its novel technology can be cost-competitive with batteries and pumped hydro,” Mr Miller said.

“While this solar and thermal storage plant works similarly to a solar farm combined with a pumped hydro facility, the advantage of RayGen’s approach is that it can be deployed at a smaller scale and at a much lower absolute cost.”

RayGen CEO, Richard Payne, said Australia’s energy transition will require storage solutions that can store power cost-effectively for hours, days or weeks and be deployed at large scale around the world.

“RayGen’s flagship 4MW/50MWh plant is expected to offer storage at a fraction of the cost of recent battery projects. The project is in a renewable energy zone that has limited capacity to support pumped hydro. We will also be supplying synchronous power to the grid where it is critically needed in the West Murray region.”

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.

RayGen is expected to reach financial close and commence construction on the plant this year, with the aim to have the facility commissioned in 2021.

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