Vast Solar seeks funding for 50 MW CSP, PV hybrid

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Australian concentrated solar power (CSP) specialist Vast Solar plans to develop a hybrid project that comprises a 30 MW CSP facility with 10 hours of storage and a 20 MW PV plant. To make this happen it needs to secure $75 million in funding.

The company said it was already working with ASX-listed financial services firm Moelis Australia, and was looking to bring a strategic partner on board.

As reported by Australian Financial Review, Vast Solar is approaching oil companies, Australian utilities as well as renewable energy investors in the Middle East and China.  To help move forward the $240 million project, Vast Solar is also talking to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the governments of NSW, Queensland and South Australia as it considers several alternative sites in those states.

The utility-scale hybrid project follows a successful 1 MW pilot plant deployed adjacent to a 50 MW solar PV project at Jemalong in New South Wales, which was bought by Genex Power last yearWelcomed as the world’s first modular CSP facility using sodium in January 2017, the $23.7 million project was backed by ARENA with a nearly $10 million grant.

“The success of our pilot plant has proven our technology can deliver dispatchable renewable energy to the grid and we are confident that, at scale, our technology will produce power at a lower cost than coal, gas or other renewable storage technologies,” said Vast Solar CEO, Craig Wood.

Unlike traditional CSP technology that uses molten salt both as a heat transfer and for storage, Vast Solar has developed low cost, modular, CSP technology with integrated thermal storage that uses sodium for heat transfer and molten salt for on-demand storage, both of which create steam to drive a turbine. 

Vast Solar says its technology allows plants to be configured with 4-16 hours of storage and generators of up to 500MW. The company has been working with the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales to explore the potential of its CSP technology, which it sees as a missing link in the renewable energy transition.

CSP technology grabbed the limelight in Australia two years ago, when the South Australian government inked a generation project agreement with U.S. firm Solar Reserve for a massive solar thermal plant project, mooted as the world’s biggest. The 150 MW Aurora solar thermal plant, which will feature heliostats and heliostat components manufactured and assembled by local outfit Heliostat SA, is being developed with the option to add solar PV technology in order to maximize electricity generation from the CSP facility during peak demand periods, as well as meet the station’s own electricity needs.