The Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy have approved funding of $65 million for VS1, Vast Solar’s 30MW/ 288MWh reference plant in Port Augusta, South Australia.
The funding is another step forward for the project, which will create hundreds of jobs and be the catalyst for an Australian concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) industry.
VS1 is the first utility-scale CSP plant that will deploy Vast Solar’s world-leading technology.
The technology generates clean, low-cost, dispatchable power by capturing and storing the sun’s energy during the day to be used to generate heat and power, including at night.
It has received international awards thanks to its modular design and pioneering use of sodium as the heat transfer fluid, providing higher efficiency and reliability.
VS1 will help anchor Vast Solar’s green technology manufacturing activities in Australia, with the potential to create a billion-dollar CSP export industry.
The project will create dozens of green manufacturing jobs, hundreds of jobs during construction and long-term plant operations roles.
Vast Solar’s CSP uses turbines similar to those found in coal and gas power plants to generate electricity, and the project will provide opportunities for skilled workers displaced by the closure of fossil-fired power plants.
Vast Solar is currently working with state and federal governments to identify the site of its first full-scale manufacturing facility, which will produce Vast Solar’s Australian designed and made CSP technology.
The announcement followed recent news of $19.48 million and 13.2 million Euros funding from HyGATE, a collaboration between the Australian and German Governments, for Solar Methanol 1 (SM1), a Vast Solar-led project that will help to decarbonise hard-to-abate industries.
SM1 will be a world-first green methanol reference plant, producing zero-emission fuel for aviation and shipping, and will co-located with VS1 in Port Augusta.
The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity, and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said Vast Solar’s home-grown concentrated solar power technology could be a game changer for Australia and the world.
“The scale of the energy transformation underway is massive – it’s great to see an Australian company developing breakthrough technology to create jobs and clean, reliable and affordable power in the regions,” Minister Bowen said.
“Making this technology commercially viable on a larger scale could go a long way to meeting the growing need for dispatchable renewable energy, energy security and longer duration storage.
“Vast Solar is globally recognised as a leader in this technology that will help support our goal of getting the nation’s electricity grid to 82% renewables by 2030.”
ARENA CEO Darren Miller 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 renewable energy at scale.
“With the increasing need for dispatchable renewable generation and longer duration energy storage, CSP has potential to assist Australia’s energy transition alongside pumped hydro and large scale batteries,” Mr Miller said.
“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.”
Vast CEO Craig Wood added: “We are delighted and humbled by the continued support we have received from ARENA and the Commonwealth Government.
“The world-leading VS1 plant will have an important impact on the future of clean, dispatchable energy generation in Australia and globally, allowing us to sustainably power electricity grids overnight and cutting-edge projects such as SM1.
“We are grateful to the Australian government who are taking a clear stand to support the energy transition in Australia, creating jobs and supporting local industry.”