Australian concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) company Vast Solar has recently been awarded the CSP Technology Innovation Prize at the international CSPPLAZA Conference 2019 held in Suzhou, China.

The Company’s world-first modular tower CSP technology uses sodium as the heat transfer fluid to deliver a system that could unlock the huge potential of CSP globally by generating energy at lower cost than coal, gas and other renewable and storage technologies.

The technology has been proven at Vast Solar’s Pilot Plant in regional Australia, where it has been delivering electricity to the grid since early 2018. To build upon this world-first achievement, Vast Solar initiated a capital raise in early 2019 to progress development of its 30MW CSP Reference Plant and today it is pleased to announce the completion of this process, with further support gained from existing investors. CSP, which uses heliostats – mirrors that track the sun in two directions – to concentrate solar radiation onto a receiving tower, is rapidly becoming the preferred means of generating cost-effective dispatchable renewable power in sunny regions.

IRENA projects there will be 633GW of installed CSP by 2050, with utility-scale projects currently under construction in China, Morocco, Chile and the UAE.

Vast Solar’s fundamental innovation has been to combine the advantages of central tower CSP systems with a modular solar array architecture. The technology combines the best elements of molten salt tower and thermal oil trough systems to achieve very efficient distributed energy collection at high temperatures.

The use of liquid sodium as the heat transfer fluid to transport energy from the receivers to the molten salt storage tanks has enabled the modular design that delivers very high optical efficiencies and excellent thermal performance and control. When built at scale, Vast Solar’s CSP technology will deliver dramatic cost and performance benefits, including in construction and operation, making CSP much more cost effective to build and to operate.

Collecting the award at the conference in Suzhou in front of CSP leaders from around the world, Craig Wood, CEO of Vast Solar, said:“It is an honour to be recognised at this prestigious ceremony. Following the success of our pilot project, we are looking forward to commercialising the technology and we welcome international partners that can help us fully realise the potential of this groundbreaking technology.

“Our innovations have delivered world-leading control of HTF temperatures which enables higher operating temperatures and power cycle efficiency, increased energy capture through superior transient ride-through and reduced risk to downstream equipment. The more renewable energy we use, the less fossil fuels are needed.

“In the coming years, we expect Vast Solar’s CSP technology to play a major role in energy developments here in China and around the world. Like Vast Solar, China is a world leader in CSP and we believe a partnership would be mutually beneficial, as well as advancing the CSP industry more broadly.”