$29 million awarded to 20 solar PV projects

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017

01 arena announce

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has awarded $29.2 million for 20 research projects to accelerate the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.

ARENA’s third round of R&D funding supports early-stage research to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of solar PV, from creating flexible solar devices to making semi-transparent, high-efficiency solar cells for integrating into windows. The funding has been offered to research teams from UNSW (11 projects, $16.43m), ANU (six projects, $7.89m), Monash University (two projects, $1.59m) and CSIRO (one project, $3.31m).

Most of the projects will focus on silicon technologies, as the vast majority of solar panels worldwide are currently made using silicon. Some will aim to develop solar cells using new materials, such as organic photovoltaics and perovskites, which would be lower cost to manufacture, printable or more sustainable.

Other projects include:

  • setting new efficiency records for solar PV cells;
  • offering cheaper, greener and less toxic materials;
  • using new materials to reduce manufacturing costs;
  • replacing high-cost metals with low-cost alternatives;
  • improving the quality of silicon material and therefore its life span; and
  • delivering new ways to rectify cell defects.

Together with contributions from industry partners such as Jinko Solar and LONGi Solar, and leading institutions from Asia, Europe and the US, total value of the projects is approximately $102 million.

“All projects focus on efficiency and cost-effectiveness — whether they be developing promising materials, improving manufacturing methods or scaling up new technology,” said Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

“The initiative is designed to not only enhance our world-class research position, but also address conditions specific to our nation, where more than one in five households already have solar panels fitted.

“It could lead several breakthroughs, ranging from the development of printable solar cells that can be easily rolled up and transported, to the integration of semi-transparent solar cells into windows.”

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Australian innovation is already built into many silicon solar panels made globally, and this funding will accelerate solar PV technology.

“In this funding round, the candidates and the calibre was so high, we actually increased the total funding we awarded to nearly $30 million,” Frischknecht said.

“This research will improve the technological and commercial readiness of new innovation in solar PV cells and modules, enhance Australia’s position as world leaders in solar PV R&D and address Australian-specific conditions.”

Image caption: Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg with UNSW Associate Professor Chee Mun Chong, who leads one of the successful ARENA projects. Photo: Wilson da Silva.

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