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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has congratulated Vast Solar on taking the next step in advancing its Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) power generation technology.

The new Australian project will prove the reliable and safe operation of Vast Solar’s concentrating solar thermal system in a fully functioning pilot-scale power generation facility.

ARENA is contributing $4.99 million to the $10.06 million project, which will build a CST power station in Jemalong, New South Wales.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said “Vast Solar’s grid-connected pilot plant will be capable of generating 6MW of thermal energy, which generates 1.1MW electrical output – enough to power 400 homes. It will include three hours of thermal energy storage.

“ARENA is very pleased to support Vast Solar as it advances its low-cost, high-efficiency technology.

“It’s an excellent demonstration of how ARENA invests along the innovation chain – from early lab research to pre-commercial deployment – to advance renewable energy technologies,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Vast Solar has developed innovative designs for low-cost, high-efficiency components to reduce the cost of CST power.

“These components have been successfully developed and tested through Vast Solar’s 1.2 MWth Performance Validation Project.

“This 1.2MWth project, which was also supported by ARENA, involved a single module of Vast Solar’s CST power system – comprising a solar field of 700 mirrors, focused on a single ‘power tower’.

“The new pilot-scale plant will involve five of these modules (3500 mirrors) and represents the next phase in the development of this technology as it scales up.

“Vast Solar’s technology progression demonstrates the value of this investment and important role ARENA plays in developing the energy infrastructure of the future.”

Construction of the Jemalong Solar Thermal Station commenced in mid-April and is due for completion by the end of 2014. Thirty-five local jobs are expected to be created throughout the project. 

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