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Funding announced for Victoria solar development

28th Jul 2011

The Organic Solar Cells project has received additional funding from the Victorian and Commonwealth governments.

A number of academic and industry bodies are collaborating on the project, including the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Bluescope Steel and Bosch SEA.

The new type of solar technology aims to produce solar cells that are more efficient, cheaper and able to be adapted for installation on a wider range of surfaces.

$1.7 million in funds will be allocated to the project following an initial $12 million that was made in 2007.

In both rounds, 50 per cent of the funding has come from Victoria's Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS). (reworded)

Organic solar cells are different to those based on silicon as they are created with light sensitive ink, which converts sunlight into energy.

The process results in thinner, more flexible solar cells that are inexpensive to mass produce.

Some intended applications will involve being able to print the cells onto plastic and steel surfaces.

Dr David Jones from the University of Melbourne's Bio21 Institute says the funding is crucial to building a viable clean energy future for Australia.

"We expect the new solar cells to drastically increase the use of solar electricity in Australia. As the cost of producing solar panels significantly decreases, the technology will become more accessible," Jones says.

Funding from the Victorian government has been matched by the Commonwealth, with Victorian minister for energy and resources Michael O'Brien making the announcement yesterday (July 27).

"The Coalition government supports investment in energy technology innovation as part of our commitment to finding new and improved ways of meeting future energy demand by Victorian families and businesses,” Mr O’Brien said.

In the 2010-11 budget, the Victorian Coalition government allocated an additional $41 million for future funding through the ETIS.

52 per cent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions come from brown coal electricity generation and the state is aiming for 25 per cent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources such as solar power systems by 2020.

The ETIS aims to provide industrial and regional economic growth by facilitating co-developments between the public and private sector.

An integral part of the process is being able to push products to market, by ensuring they are developed to the point where they are commercially-ready.

Once developed, products are demonstrated to showcase their commercial potential in the marketplace, which will help fuel economic growth in the sector.

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