ARENA delivers first round of R&D funding

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

The Australian Government Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $21.5 million funding for 12 solar projects as part of the first round of its Research and Development Program. The program supports renewable energy technologies that will increase the commercial deployment of renewable energy technology in Australia.

The Australian National University (ANU) received $9 million in funding for five projects, including research to make it easier to manufacture solar cells; research into making silicon solar cells and solar modules more efficient and affordable; and two projects to facilitate the commercialisation of high-temperature solar thermal technology.

The ANU research is supported by several project partners, including The University of New South Wales (UNSW), which has separately secured around $7 million for three projects that will improve performance or reduce manufacturing costs for solar technologies.

One of the projects aims to combine three innovative manufacturing approaches to improve production of next-generation commercial silicon solar cells. It builds on solar cell architectures developed under earlier ARENA projects and involves a number of industry partners.

The second project is focused on high-efficiency silicon and perovskite tandem cells and modules. The third project aims to use a new measurement system and advanced simulation tools to investigate processes that impact the performance of solar cells.

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has meanwhile received a $750,000 investment to develop a low-cost, high-density renewable energy storage system using lithium-sulfur batteries. The UTS Centre for Clean Energy Technology hopes to make a prototype battery product suitable for application in single dwellings, isolated communities, for government and energy industries in Australia and worldwide.

The 12 projects were announced this week by the Hon Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, and can be viewed online.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said of the successful projects, “The research will complement ARENA’s existing suite of solar projects, which is already delivering more efficient technologies and helping to reduce costs associated with the deployment of renewable energy in Australia.

“Such projects will extend Australia’s world-leading research position in solar R&D and deliver economic benefits by generating Australian-owned IP in potentially game-changing technologies.”

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