Australian concentrated PV technology finds Chinese takers

RayGen Resources, an Australian start-up, has signed a $60 million investment and distribution deal with ZhouZhou Intense Solar to export its concentrated PV-thermal (CSPV) technology as part of an official government trade mission to China.

RayGen has received $2.75 million in federal and state government grants since its inception in 2010 and was a finalist in the 2013 Australian Technologies Competition supported by the Department of Industry. The visibility offered by the AusTrade program further led to an invitation to join an official government trade mission to China earlier in April.
Raygen’s CSPV technology involves the use of computer‐controlled mirrors to direct a concentrated beam of sunlight onto a stage where light and heat are separated. The light is then directly converted into electricity using ultra‐efficient, multi-junction solar PV cells, while the heat is partially converted to electricity and partially stored, allowing for energy production even at night (see image below for details).

Dispatchable concentrating solar PV systemImage Credit: RayGen Resources

This combination of concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) and heat-based concentrated solar power (CSP) makes it twice as efficient as flat-plate (e.g. roof-top) PV, and allows for large-scale solar energy to be produced cost-competitively at off-grid locations (such as for mining).

RayGen’s CEO, Bob Cart, is confident about the future of the CSPV and claims that “based on the current trajectory, we believe sales of CSPV products will pass the billion‐dollar mark by the end of the decade.”
He is also hopeful about RayGen’s future and expects sales of the technology to reach volumes of over $58 million in the next few years.

The development is a silver lining for an otherwise gloomy environment for the solar industry in Australia, which faces the prospect of reduction or termination of the Renewable Energy Target.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb reckons the deal is good news for Australia. “[This deal] is a tremendous example of Australian innovation finding a market in China which results in jobs, investment and trade for Australia,” he says.

Top Image Credit: RayGen Resources

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Nitin Nampalli