ARENA funds $3mn for potential solar-hydro plant in Victoria
The first stage will be to conduct research and test the commercial feasibility of developing a 4MW solar-hydro electric plant in northwestern Victoria.
Startup company RayGen is committed to accelerating the global transition to renewable energy by developing state-of-the-art technology for usage in large-scale infrastructure projects.
The company has developed unique ‘PV Ultra’ tech which is able to simultaneously generate electricity from light and heat at an energy efficiency of almost 90%. The company’s own estimate places PV Ultra panels as 4,000 times more powerful than regular PVs.
RayGen claims that its solution offers the same advantages of hydroelectricity, yet with far fewer operational constraints, lower costs and lower risks. When this is factored into PV Ultra’s easy scalability, RayGen considers itself pivotal in solar power’s future.
Putting the pieces together
Despite the innovativeness of PV Ultra, RayGen’s scope for pushing the frontiers of renewable energy are not yet exhausted. The proposed solar-hydro plant in Victoria could be the world’s first combination of two clean energy processes.
RayGen’s Thermal Hydro technology is capable of storing energy for approximately 10 hours (versus a regular battery storage of one to four hours), and it is by combining the two that both it and ARENA hope to create a powerful renewable energy resource.
The tower-mounted PV Ultra panels will generate electricity, whilst Thermal Hydro will store the energy as a temperature difference between two water reservoirs: one heated by the PV Ultra electricity generation and the other chilled by refrigeration also powered by the panels.
If given the green-light, this project presents the opportunity to create and store large volumes of clean power generated from a self-sustaining cycle.
Darren Miller, CEO of ARENA, praised the value of the project and predicted its important application in ensuring Australian power demands continue to be met.
“With RayGen’s project we’re seeing homegrown innovation in solar PV now being used to find new solutions for dispatchable renewable energy. RayGen’s solution could complement other more traditional forms of storage such as grid-scale batteries and pumped hydro.
“While this solar and thermal storage plant works similarly to a solar farm combined with a pumped hydro facility, the advantage of RayGen’s approach is that it can be deployed at a smaller scale and at a much lower absolute cost,” he said.
Meantime, Richard Payne, CEO of RayGen, was already considering what more could be done to hasten Australia’s goal of lessening its reliance on fossil fuels.
“Australia’s energy transition will require storage solutions that can store power cost-effectively for hours, days or weeks and be deployed at large scale around the world.
“RayGen has developed an innovative solar-plus-storage product that captures sunlight with mirrors and stores energy in water. Our technology provides firm renewable power at low cost, while conserving natural resources and our environment.”
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Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.