Australian cleantech company Vast Solar is part of a consortium that will receive US$2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to advance the development of concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) technology, which will help support President Biden’s goal of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050 according to an Energy Department press release.
The funding comes as Vast Solar eyes potential projects in the USA on the back of strong investment incentives following the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act. The act will drive energy cost reductions of up to 50 per cent for Vast Solar’s modular tower CSP plants.
Vast Solar’s Australian-made CSP technology generates clean, low-cost, dispatchable power, capturing and storing the sun’s energy during the day to be used to generate industrial process heat and electricity at night. It will be deployed at Vast Solar’s first utility scale power plant, the 30MW Vast Solar 1 in Port Augusta, which has received Australian Government backing of up to AUD$110 million in concessional finance.
The US$2.3m will be awarded to a consortium led by Solar Dynamics, and including Vast Solar, to develop and test designs of molten salt thermal energy storage tanks. Strengthening the tanks will improve the performance of CSP plants, which are one of the only proven long-duration storage technologies that are critical to decarbonising electricity production and industrial process heat.
Vast Solar is recognised as a world leader in its understanding and management of molten salt storage for CSP.
Announcing the funding, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said:
“Solar-thermal technologies provide us with a significant opportunity to upgrade and reduce emissions of industrial plants across the nation while meeting America’s energy needs with reliable, around the clock power generation. DOE’s investments will drive the innovation necessary to build out a clean energy economy and meet our climate goals while diversifying the sources of dependable and readily available clean energy.”
Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar, who was at the SolarPACES conference in Albuquerque when the funding was announced, said:
“Funding from the US Government is going to accelerate the development of the technology, ensuring we optimise the performance of tanks so they deliver the best outcomes for users.”
“Just as important is the Inflation Reduction Act, which changes the game for CSP in the USA. We expect to see rapid deployment of plants in sunny states throughout the USA, helping the country achieve its decarbonisation goals. With our world-leading, Australia-made CSP technology, Vast Solar will play a big role in the transition, generating clean, low-cost dispatchable energy.”
Hank Price, Managing Director of Solar Dynamics, said:
“We are excited to collaborate with Vast Solar on this effort. Vast Solar brings significant knowledge and capabilities to the team, which helped us to prepare a winning proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.”
“We appreciate that DOE supports the CSP industry’s efforts to improve the design, reliability, and lifetime of molten salt storage.”
About Vast Solar
Vast Solar is an Australian developer of concentrating solar thermal power technology. Its innovative modular tower solar array combines the best elements of molten salt towers and parabolic trough systems to deliver the world’s lowest cost dispatchable, renewable energy for hot, dry climates.
In October 2019, the Company was awarded the International Energy Agency’s prestigious SolarPACES Technical Innovation Award for the world’s most innovative concentrated solar thermal power technology, and it was shortlisted in 2022 as one of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Pioneers.
Vast Solar is currently developing two CSP projects in Australia: the 30MW VS1 in Port Augusta, South Australia; and the 50MW VS2 baseload solar hybrid in Mount Isa, Queensland.
About Solar Dynamics
Solar Dynamics is a technology company leveraging practical experience, innovative designs, and state-of-the-art engineering tools to develop next-generation CSP products and services.
For more information please visit: http://solardynllc.com/
About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports solar energy research,
development, demonstration and technical assistance to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the electric grid.
Learn more at energy.gov/eere/solar