ARENA Supporting Bright Ideas in Solar R&D

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Thursday, August 28, 2014

 

The Australian Government today announced $21.5 million funding for 12 cutting edge R&D projects that will keep Australia at the forefront of solar research. Parliamentary Secretary for Industry Bob Baldwin made the announcement at an Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) event held at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the projects from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Australian National University (ANU), CSIRO and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) represented the vanguard of Australia’s solar ingenuity.

“These are the top 12 projects from a very competitive round where 110 applications were received, peer-reviewed and ranked against one another,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“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.

“ARENA’s investment is being matched by substantial contributions from domestic and international partners, resulting in projects totalling more than $70 million.

“These 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.”

Mr Frischknecht said the projects ranged from enhancing existing technologies to advancing emerging technologies in solar photovoltaics, solar thermal and solar storage. They all aim to significantly reduce the cost or increase the efficiency of solar power.

“UNSW is seeking to develop an innovative tandem solar cell using perovskite, an emerging material that can be paired with

silicon to produce solar panels that could be cheaper and more efficient than conventional silicon-only panels,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“CSIRO plans to leverage its solar thermal know-how to design an heliostat mirror and control system that would enable cost-effective deployment of central-tower solar thermal installations, potentially opening a new domestic market.

“ANU is working with Australian solar cell manufacturer Tindo Solar to optimise solar modules for Australia’s unique and demanding conditions, providing a competitive edge in the domestic market.

“UTS is developing improved renewable energy storage using lithium-sulfur batteries, currently the most promising and cost-effective technology for large-scale energy storage.

Providing support to R&D projects is a key part of ARENA’s strategy to increase the use of renewable energy technologies by making them competitive with conventional energy sources and addressing challenges unique to the Australian environment.

“ARENA is not in the business of investing in research for the sake of research – there is a direct correlation between the research projects we fund and the application of 21st century renewable energy technologies,” Mr Frischknecht said.

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