The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has approved AUS$65 million ($45 million) in funding for a 30MW concentrated solar power plant in Port Augusta.

The 288MWh VS1 project is claimed to be Australia’s first commercial CSP plant and will begin operations in the latter part of 2025.

The plant will make use of Vast Solar’s modular CSP technology. The solar company aims to demonstrate the performance of its technology at utility-scale to unlock further investment opportunities.

According to Vast Solar, their modular design, use of sodium as the heat transfer fluid, and patented control systems, allow the generation of higher-temperature heat and greater reliability.

The $203 million project will also demonstrate the value of CSP in delivering reliable and dispatchable renewable energy to Australia.

Darren Miller, chief executive of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said the expansion of Vast Solar’s technology into a commercial scale project shows that CSP technology could play an important role in generating and storing renewables at scale.

“With the increasing need for dispatchable renewable generation and longer duration energy storage, CSP has the potential to assist Australia’s energy transition alongside pumped hydro and large-scale batteries,” said Miller.

“Vast Solar’s global recognition as a leader in CSP technology innovation, combined with its significant technical and commercial expertise, mean that it is well placed to deliver Australia’s first large-scale CSP plant which should deliver power at a cost competitive with other forms of renewable generation.”

ARENA’s funding for VS1 is conditional upon the project reaching a financial close, which is expected in late 2023.

Craig Wood, chief executive of Vast Solar, said: “We are grateful for ARENA’s long-term support. Their understanding of the potential of our CSP technology is a testament to the Australian Government’s ambition to deliver cost-competitive dispatchable renewable energy to help uphold emissions reductions goals while supporting local jobs and industry.”

Originally published by Power Engineering International


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