ARENA backing supercharges MGA Thermal storage

MGA Thermal CEO Erich Kisi in dark room with thermal storage blocks
MGA Thermal CEO Erich Kisi with thermal storage blocks

Australian thermal energy storage company MGA Thermal has been awarded funding of $1.27 million from ARENA to supercharge its renewable-friendly thermal energy storage technology.

This is the latest chapter in the MGA Thermal’s astronomical rise as it gears up for commercial scale and comes only weeks after unveiling its new manufacturing facility, and new support from the Australian Government validates the role the company will play in future-proofing national energy supply. 

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The $1.27 million funding will help fund the creation and installation of a 5MWh storage prototype to demonstrate the generation of steam from stored thermal energy. 

Showcasing charging and discharging at up to 500 KiloWatts (kW), the prototype will be located at the company’s facility in Newcastle. With an expected budget of $2.85 million, MGA Thermal’s pilot unit will produce valuable performance data and provide a tangible demonstration of the technology for prospective customers. 

“The latest round of funding underscores the critical role that MGA Thermal blocks will play in the nation’s energy transition. Solutions like ours make it possible to retrofit existing thermal power plants with renewable storage technology,” MGA Thermal CEO and co-founder Erich Kisi said.

The company’s purpose-designed Miscibility Gaps Alloy (MGA) blocks work by absorbing and storing thermal energy made from renewably generated electricity, surplus energy from the grid or from industrial waste heat. This can then create steam to run turbines or direct heat for use in industries like green hydrogen production, manufacturing and agribusiness. 

“If the current industry sentiment  and the impacts of climate change are telling us anything, it’s that we can no longer hold off on the renewable energy transition. While conventional storage technologies like batteries play an important role, a complementary, grid-scale dispatchable energy solution is required to power a seamless transition to renewables nationally,” Kisi said.

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ARENA CEO Darren Miller said, “MGA Thermal’s unique technology has enormous potential to support the uptake of renewable energy. The novel approach could make a real difference in the mid-to-long-term storage category, supporting hydrogen and pumped hydro. With potential developments for industrial heating and uses, MGA thermal will play a crucial role in decarbonising the electricity grid and heavy industry.”

With current customer interest of 20GWh, the equivalent of powering 1.3 million homes, MGA Thermal’s solution can repurpose coal-fired and power plants with thermal storage to deliver clean baseload power, while also helping to prevent job loss from power plant closures. 

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