Research boost for solar panel efficiency and cost reduction
The Australia Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $15.14 million in funding to 16 research projects to help improve solar panel efficiency, reduce costs and address end-of-life issues.
The funding has been awarded to research teams in six different universities; the Australian National University, Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Swinburne University.
ARENA initially opened the application in December last year with a $15 million commitment. The round received over 50 applications with a total project value of over $150 million.
The two-year R&D projects will support solar PV in the following areas:
- Advanced silicon: improvements to the overall cost-effectiveness of silicon-based panels already in mass market production, and their production processes
- Tandem silicon: increasing the cost-effectiveness of silicon-based solar PV through the use of tandem materials
- New materials: development of new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications
- End-of-life: new solutions, including upfront solar PV panel designs and end of life processing, that increase the cost-effectiveness of sustainable end-of-life management of solar PV panels.
In addition to end-of-life issues, selected projects will also aim to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar technology for new or established applications and develop new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications.
ARENA chief executive Darren Miller says it’s fantastic to see so much interest in the latest solar R&D round: “We’re very pleased with the level of interest which is reflected in the great variety of projects across the priority areas, particularly in the Advanced Silicon field where Australia leads the world.
“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 area. 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 or repurposed for future use.”