The Australian Government has confirmed it will invest over $3 million in solar technology research at The Australian National University (ANU).
The funding announcement was made by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a body dedicated to improving the competitiveness of Australian renewable energy technologies.
The Solar Research & Development round received over 50 applications, and all five submitted by ANU were successful.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions the Hon Angus Taylor MP said Australia’s solar photovoltaics sector does not have a sustainable solution for managing used solar panels at the end of their life.
“Solar power is playing an increasing role in Australia’s energy mix,” Minister Taylor said.
“Australia is a world leader in the renewable sector. Managing used solar panels at the end of their life is an emerging issue, and why the Government is backing Australian researchers to find ways to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar PV technologies while also reducing waste.”
The investment in solar technology at ANU totals $3,223,148 and will go towards world-leading research projects on silicon solar cells, perovskite modules, and high-efficiency hybrid cells.
The funding and projects include:
- $404,000 to Dr Josua Stuckelberger to commercialise an ANU-patented technology enabling simpler, safer and cheaper fabrication of next-generation silicon solar cells
- $455,000 to Dr Lachlan Black to simplify the processing of high-efficiency silicon solar cells
- $1.13 million to Professor Kylie Catchpole to develop innovative concepts and advanced designs for commercially-viable silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells
- $735,000 to Associate Professor Klaus Weber to improve the stability, durability and reliability of perovskite solar cells in shade and other real-world conditions; and
- $507,000 to Dr Teng Choon Kho to develop Heterocontact-Polysilicon Hybrid interdigitated back contact, or IBC, solar cells, which are potentially highly-efficient and currently under-utilised.
A further two members of the College, Dr Kean Fong and Associate Professor Thomas White, are involved in additional ARENA funded projects in collaboration with the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne respectively.
Research lead Dr Josua Stuckelberger’s project will focus on high efficiency silicon solar cells.
Dr Stuckelberger said that it has never been more important time to invest in renewable technology.
“After the record bushfires here in Australia and now in California, it has become increasingly clear that we need to act on climate change. The question is not why is it important to fund renewable energy, but when do we really start to act and bring about real change,” he said.
The project goal is “to make a more efficient, low-cost silicon solar cell”.
Dr Stuckelberger said this support will go a long way in making this a reality.
“This funding enables us to take a proven Australian technology to global mass production,” he said.
ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said that it was fantastic to see so much interest in the latest round.
“We have a great variety of projects that are spread across the priority areas, particularly in the Advanced Silicon field where Australia leads athe world in this research.”
“A key part of the funding round was finding a solution to the end-of-life of solar panels and we’re excited to see some interesting new research into this. It’s an important part in our transition to renewable energy as we need to ensure that materials used in solar panels can be recycled for future use in production,” Mr Miller said.