Solar panels in a field

Company Profile

Company: RayGen Resources Pty Ltd

Sector: Manufacturing

Location: Melbourne

Profile: RayGen Resources Pty Ltd is a Melbourne based solar technology business that is involved in the design and development of new solar power technology that is more efficient, and cheaper to manufacture than conventional solar panels.

Why R&D was needed

RayGen saw the need and identified a way to create a solar energy solution that is more efficient and commercially viable. The company has developed new grid scale solar power technology that has a clear path to lower capital cost and that is 2 times more efficient than typical solar panels. It has been operated at appropriate performance levels with pilot scale field trials under way for reliability and performance.

RayGen is also developing the manufacturing systems for this technology to enable the key core (small and high value) components of the system (30% of the product) to be economically produced in Australia. This facilitates low cost deployment and export with the balance of system able to be sourced appropriately.

For an international project, it will also can source and assemble the larger balance of system components “in-country”. This has made the technology more attractive due to the lower level of import required and ease to transport the smaller core components, especially in countries that have stricter rules about the level of imports.

Once fully operational, RayGen will train supply chain partners to produce the larger (low tech) balance of system components in the respective countries. As the intellectual property is held by RayGen, it enables the company to manage and contract out portions of the system to partners.

The key customers for this technology are power companies or industries which require industrial or grid scale power. RayGen have also a way to capture and utilise the heat by-product enabling organisations to save on their electricity and gas bills.

For example, RayGen is in discussions with a company in the Middle East that are planning to build a resort in Africa and want to use the technology to provide the heat and electricity for 500 people. A local project under development is for provision of electricity and process heat for a food company in northern Victoria.

RayGen have formed a supply chain network to make the components for their technology, which are then assembled in an automated manufacturing line in their Blackburn factory.

RayGen have used several Australian suppliers to make key components, for example Ceramet, a metal pressing and precision parts manufacturer in Ballarat and Harrop Engineering which traditionally have been involved in car manufacturing. Now that RayGen has worked with these businesses, when car manufacturing shuts down the companies can use their manufacturing skills to produce new components and new products. Other local suppliers include Furphy in Shepparton, and Able industries in Melbourne who have 'skilled up' so they can produce components for RayGen.

[The RDTI] allows us to include more people, to go faster, it allows us to go further than we otherwise would have. It's very valuable, it is a great scheme and it has worked well for us.

Dr John Lasich, Chief Technology Officer, RayGen Resources

How the Research and Development Tax Incentive Helps

The R&D Tax Incentive has had a very significant impact on the RayGen business over the last five years. The program has helped fund RayGen's research into finding efficient ways to produce reliable and cost effective solar technologies.

According to Dr John Lasich, Chief Technology Officer at RayGen, “it is very difficult in this country to raise risk capital. Most Australian investors are really risk averse, especially with new technology. We have taken many significant steps to de-risk the technology, e.g. demonstrating that efficiency [of the solar technology] is double typical solar, built pilot demonstration systems and a pilot manufacturing plant. Having this support from the R&D Tax program just helps us achieve more and become more attractive to private investors.”

For RayGen, the RDTI together with grants from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Victorian Government has made the organisation more attractive. Specifically, with the RDTI forming some 10% of the capital raised, investors see more value in investing in the company as they can invest less and thus have less risk with a high-risk/high return business.

The RDTI has also enabled RayGen to develop relationships with international players to augment the technologies for international use and discuss export opportunities.

In regards to machinery for manufacturing, the RDTI has assisted RayGen in purchasing machinery for the manufacturing process and to modify the machines to be able to produce the novel technology in a high quality and efficient fashion.

According to Dr John Lasich, “[the RDTI] has also been great for hiring and training staff. We have 25 staff, most of whom are technical people who are developing the new technology and the new manufacturing and quality assurance processes as well.”

“Another group are testing this in field as a product. The R&D Tax Incentive has contributed approximately 10 % to this over the last five years which is significant, it is a very big help.” 

The company started with three staff and the RDTI program has helped provide further job security, so the company could grow to the 25-staff team it is today.

RDTI Impact Facts

  • Enabled the investment in upskilling car manufacturer workers to work in this alternative industry saving jobs that would otherwise be lost. 
  • Made RayGen more attractive to investors.
  • Facilitated expansion of the RayGen team from three to 25 employees.
  • Enabled RayGen to develop partnerships with international players to expand their market.