Melbourne-based solar technology company RayGen Resources says it will convert its pilot solar PV plant in Newbridge, Victoria into a utility-scale facility, after being granted $2.9 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The $5.9 million project will extend the Newbridge plant using RayGen’s PV Ultra technology, which uses low-cost mirrors to track and reflect the sun onto an ultra-efficient solar PV receiver located on the top of a central tower.
RayGen – which unveiled its $3.6 million, 200kW pilot CSPV tower plant in March last year – claims to be the first in the world to combine high efficiency solar cells with low-cost heliostat collector systems.
And with a sunlight-to-electricity conversion rate of 40.4 per cent, the technology currently holds the PV system efficiency world record in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, where it was developed.
Over the course of the project, the company also expects to scale up operations – and ultimately deliver a cheaper commercial product – through its newly developed 8MW per year manufacturing line in Blackburn, Victoria.
“PV Ultra has the potential to be a renewable energy game-changer,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in a statement on Tuesday. “And RayGen is well on the way to taking its innovative system to the rest of the world.
Frischknecht said the upgrade at the existing Newbridge site would generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 50 homes in the local community.
“ARENA is excited to have supported both the pilot plant and this project. We are excited to assist RayGen to move another step closer to fully commercialising its PV Ultra system and, at the same time, also help to move this emerging technology down the cost curve.
“A flexible system size makes the solution a good option for developing countries and remote locations looking to access affordable power without building expensive grid infrastructure,” he said.
RayGen’s newly appointed CEO, Alex Wyatt, said ARENA’s two-stage support had been instrumental in hastening the technology’s pathway towards commercialisation.
“This latest project will enable RayGen to increase its manufacturing capacity and develop potentially lucrative overseas markets for our product,” he said.
The project is planned for completion by December 2016.