The Albanese government has announced that $45 million dollars of federal funding will be delivered via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to continue research into solar technologies. Most importantly, the research will focus on reducing the cost of manufacturing solar products while also increasing their efficiency.
The research is led by the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), and continues the good work they are already doing. While the research is being led by the University of NSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, there are also research groups at the CSIRO, Australian National University, Monash University, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Queensland.
ACAP was established more than 10 years ago, and continues to provide the framework for research into low-cost, more efficient solar products.
30 30 30
The ACAP research program has recently become more aligned with ARENA’s well-publicised 30 30 30 goal. That is to improve solar panel efficiency by 30% and reduce the cost of manufacturing panels to 30c per watt by 2030.
Since 2013, ARENA has provided $83 million of funding to ACAP, and Federal Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen had glowing things to say about the project.
“Initial funding of ACAP and the great work they do was one of ARENA’s first big investments, and the Albanese government is proud to lock further funding in for this decade to ensure they remain a world leader in solar research and innovation,” Bowen said. “Today, 90 per cent of the world’s solar panels are made using technology developed by a UNSW team led by Professor Martin Green,” he added.
Becoming world leaders
ARENA CEO Darren Miller had high praise for the work being done by ACAP through its many partnerships with companies such as Bluescope, Raygen, Sun Cable and 5G. Impressively, the new round of funding will allow the graduation of 30 honours students, 10 masters students and 25 PhD students every year until 2030. It will also help to employ 18 postdoctoral research fellows.
Mr Miller suggested Australia was already punching above its weight in the field of solar research., with the recent funding announcement only strengthening our progress.
“Ultra-low cost solar will be key to enabling Australia’s energy transition and emissions reduction efforts, as it will help to lower the input costs for green hydrogen, low emissions metals and other large-scale clean energy opportunities across all sectors as we move to net zero,” Miller said.