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MGA Thermal awarded $2.5 million from ARENA, prepares to resume commissioning

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Eight months after temporarily pausing its energy storage demonstrator’s operations due to an overheating issue, MGA Thermal has received a further nod of confidence in its recovery from the incident with an extra $2.48 million in backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA.)

The company shared news of the funding – which nearly triples ARENA’s investment following a $1.27 million grant for the pilot line in August 2022 – on Tuesday. 

“A behind-the-meter energy storage solution that helps balance utility-scale renewables with distributed energy storage is vital for Australia to effectively manage the evolving supply-demand dynamics of a clean energy future,” said Mark Croudace, CEO of MGA Thermal.

“With support from ARENA, we’re getting closer to recommissioning our demonstration unit and starting to scale up for commercial deployment.”

MGA Thermal is commercialising a “miscibility gap alloy”-based approach to storing heat, based on research at the University of Newcastle. Heat is stored in metal alloy particles, which are surrounded by a brick-shaped metal matrix (pictured), and can be released to create industrial heat or dispatchable electricity through steam. 

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said, “We prioritise projects with enduring impact and see the value in MGA Thermal’s technology for assisting large industrial players in decarbonising their processes.”

The ARENA funding follows the company’s announcement in April of an additional $5.7 million in funding from investors including Main Sequence, Melt Ventures and JEKARA. This brought to $28.8 million the total amount raised through grants and investment at the time.

ARENA’s original grant to MGA was for development of a “Medium Duration Thermal Energy Storage demonstrator” with planned capacity of 5 megawatt hours and ability to charge and discharge up to 500 kilowatts.

In October last year there was a “dangerous heat build-up” in the machine, according to New South Wales Fire and Rescue, and a temporary evacuation of the surrounding area. 

“It is a reminder that we are working on cutting-edge technology, innovating new large-scale energy storage, and the importance of in-house trials,” MGA said in a statement to media at the time..

“The learnings will help accelerate the development of our Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system, and MGA Thermal remains committed to moving our company forward, with investor support in place.

Without specifically mentioning the incident, MGA said on Tuesday that the new funding is “primed to leverage this renewed support to resume the commissioning of [our] demonstration unit.”

Picture: supplied

Further reading

MGA Thermal raises $5.7 million for energy storage

MGA Thermal unveils new Newcastle manufacturing facility

MGA Thermal awarded $1.27 million by ARENA to build demonstrator facility

MGA Thermal raises $8.25 million

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