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Bright sparks of solar industry receive funding

22nd Nov 2012

A number of the solar industry's up-and-comers have been given a funding boost from the federal government.

Just short of a dozen PhD scholars and postdoctoral fellows are set to receive almost $3.3 million in grants to help them conduct research into various solar technologies.

The 11 prospects will join a further 31 individuals who have already benefited from financial support, which is a part of the Australian Solar Institute's (ASI's) Skills Development Program.

And it's a scheme that is set to continue after the ASI is rolled into the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) next year - in fact, the initiative will be expanded.

The funding announcement may be a boost for the solar industry, which has recently been hit by the Solar Credits mechanism cancellation being brought forward and ARENA pulling financial aid for two large scale facilities. 

Speaking at the ASI's 'The Science of Communication' workshop in Sydney, resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson said the funding shows the government's dedication to solar power.

"The program leverages Australia's existing leadership in developing and commercialising new technologies by nurturing people with the capacity to develop solutions that improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase their supply in Australia," he explained.

So where is the money going? According to the government, it will help with several interesting projects, including one recipient who is exploring ways of creating a hybrid rooftop solar PV system that uses photovoltaic and thermal elements.

And another will use the money to examine a commercially viable solar storage system that offers higher levels of efficiency than available technologies.

Mr Ferguson said the program is a fantastic way for some of the country's leading researchers to have the financial support necessary to push innovation forward.

"The Skills Development Program creates a career path for some of our best and brightest solar scientists and helps foster a new generation of solar technology experts," he explained.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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