Australian clean energy company MGA Thermal is preparing to reach commercial scale for its innovative energy storage system for renewables after securing $8.25 million in funding from existing and new investors.
The Sydney-based company, which earlier this year attracted the interest of energy giant Shell, says the fresh capital will be used to fund MGA's next phase of growth into 2024, including the commissioning of its on-site production line.
The company, which aims to make renewables supply 24/7 power through its long-duration storage system, says it is close to completing its production line at Tomago near Newcastle after successfully running a $3 million energy storage pilot program on the site.
The latest capital raising was supported by existing investors Main Sequence, Varley Holdings, Melt Ventures and New Zealand’s Climate Venture Capital Fund, while its also attracted new investors Pollination Group and Understorey Ventures.
Earlier this year, MGA Thermal CCO Mark Croudace told Business News Australia that the pilot program, which comprised a small facility 12 metres long and 3 metres wide, had a storage capacity of 5 megawatt-hours with the ability to discharge up to 500 kilowatts for 10 hours – enough to power 1,000 homes.
The MGA Thermal system comprises a series of shoebox-sized thermal energy storage blocks which are designed specifically for energy storage, and which offer higher density than traditional energy storing materials.
Miscibility gap alloy (MGA) blocks, which are stackable and can be amassed to scale up to a required energy supply, are created using metal alloy particles that are dispersed throughout a matrix material.
The blocks absorb and store thermal energy made from renewably generated electricity, surplus energy from the grid or behind-the-meter solar farms, enabling long-term energy storage across solar and wind.
MGA Thermal CEO Erich Kisi says the support from existing and new investors validates the company’s efforts in unlocking zero-carbon renewable energy storage for grid and industrial applications.
“It’s a combination of our purpose-built MGA Thermal Blocks and Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems that unlocks the transition to clean energy by making it reliable, cost-effective and scalable,” Kisi says.
“With the imminent completion of our production line, we’re on track to produce 1,000 blocks per day which can then be assembled into 24/7 renewable energy storage.”
The capital raising puts MGA Thermal on track for commercial scale as it nears the final stages of commissioning its demonstration unit which the company says is the first of its kind in the world to show the TES system in action. The company expects the demonstration unit will prove the scalability of the system to potential customers and partners.
Kisi says TES systems can store millions of kilowatt hours of energy in a cheaper, safer and longer than other dispatchable solutions.
A stack of 3,700 blocks in the demonstration unit, which is about the size of a shipping container, stores enough energy to power more than 135 homes for 24 hours.
“We’re proud of our work and support received to date from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and energy powerhouse Shell,” says Croudace, who is also deputy CEO of MGA Thermal.
In February this year, Shell committed US$400,000 ($560,000) to MGA Thermal through its Shell GameChanger program for energy startups.
“We’re honoured to welcome new supporters, Pollination Group and Understorey Ventures, whose backing is instrumental in propelling our groundbreaking solution and driving us closer to our goal of revolutionising the renewable energy storage landscape,” Croudace says.
MGA Thermal plans to use the new funds to also expand its commercial division and invest in engineering and implementation.
“Renewable energy sources come with their limitations, especially when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow,” Croudace says.
“Plugging this gap is the reason we exist. MGA Technology is perfectly aligned to generate 24/7 clean steam for harder-to-abate industrial sectors, a rapidly growing very large market domestically and globally.
“There’s no shortage of demand and we’re on track to abate 30 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030 — the equivalent of more than 23 years of commercial flights from Sydney to LA.”
Melt Ventures’ managing partner Trent Bagnall says the adoption of MGA Thermal’s technology is critical in helping energy systems transition to renewables.
“MGA Thermal’s unique technology has enormous potential to support the uptake and transition to clean energy,” Bagnall says.
“The transition for hard-to-abate industries is a huge challenge and one that requires us to rethink the way we capture and store energy. The adoption of MGA Thermal will be critical to plug this gap.”
Jez Weston, director of New Zealand’s Climate Venture Capital Fund, says the investment top-up by the group was supported the progress he says is being made by MGA Thermal in facilitating the transition to a clean energy system.
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