CSP innovator Vast Solar wins International Energy Award


Australian concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) company Vast Solar has been recognised by the IEA at SolarPACES 2019 in South Korea. The company’s technological innovation is a new opportunity for the efficient and cost-effective delivery of dispatchable energy through the use of a modular tower system with liquid sodium as the heat transfer liquid.  

CSP has had a disrupted history from being hailed a great solution to being played off the park by solar PV as prices fell and CSP finicky hindrances detracted from its great advantage, dispatchability. Vast Solar is a company that believes it has found a way to put CSP back on track.  

“The award is further proof that our technology has the potential to transform energy production in sunny places around the world,” said Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar, “We are now totally focused on developing our Reference Plant which will prove the technology at commercial scale.”  

Vast Solar’s innovation is modular in nature, combining the advantages of central tower CSP systems with a modular solar array architecture. This combination best utilises both the molten salt tower and thermal oil trough systems to achieve highly efficient distributed energy collection. 

SolarPACES is the IEA’s CSP focused collaborative program. SolarPACES Chairman Robet Pitz-Paal said: “We are happy to recognise Vast Solar for its highly innovative technology that makes significant steps towards cost competitiveness of CSP and is thus fully in line with our award criteria.” 

Mr Robert Pitz-Paal, Chairman of SolarPACES (left), presents Mr Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar (right), with the SolarPACES 2019 Technology Innovation Award at the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES 2019 conference in Daegu, South Korea, October 1-4 2019.

Image: Vast Solar

Vast Solar’s innovation and award was also celebrated by Dr Luis Crespo, President of Protermo Solar, the Spanish Solar Thermal Electricity Industry Association. Spain remains the world’s largest CSP utiliser. “What Vast Solar has achieved through its innovative use of sodium and modular solar arrays is an important step in CSP’s evolution,” said Crespo.  

Vast Solar is now working on the development of its first commercial-scale plant in regional NSW after the success of its 1.1 MW CSP Pilot Plant at Jemalong. The 30 MW commercial-scale CSP plant will form part of a 50 MW hybrid project inclusive of the 30 MW CSP power plant with 10 hours of storage and a 20 MW solar PV plant coupled with 4 MWh of battery storage. 

If completed and brought to grid connection, the 30 MW CSP plant would be Australia’s first commercial-scale grid-connected CSP project, a culmination of Vast Solar’s technology development and commercialisation process. 

“We anticipate our technology playing a critical role in energy production in suitable climates around the world,” said Wood, “generating clean, reliable energy at low cost.” 

Vast Solar predicts that its innovative modular innovation and liquid sodium energy storage technology will produce electricity at lower costs than other dispatchable renewables as well as fossil fuels.  

The International Renewable Energy Agency predicts there could be as much as 633 GW of installed CSP by 2050, with utility-scale projects currently under construction in China, Morocco, Chile and the UAE. 

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