New funding for solar research

4th Jun 2013

Solar research is gearing up for some more time in the sun with a number of new grants being given to solar power researchers.

Federal minister for resources and energy Gary Gray announced on June 2 that 25 researchers will be given fellowships to pursue their own investigations. These will be with the aim of making solar technologies cheaper and more accessible to consumers, boosting the industry in Australia with next generation solar.

"The fellowships will help build the skills and capabilities of mid-career solar researchers at institutions around the country to become the next generation of world-leading Australian researchers," said Mr Gray.

"From projects investigating techniques to reduce the cost of highly efficient common silicon solar cells to projects looking at ways to improve the efficiency of low cost organic solar cells, these researchers are exploring what could be game changers for the solar industry."

These grants are provided by the government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which has recently been subject to some funding cuts and deferrals in the 2013-14 budget announcement.

However, Mr Gray stated that the Australian government recognises that Australia is a leader in solar technology with a competitive advantage in developing and exporting them – therefore supporting the industry is of great importance.

Mr Gray also noted that these latest fellowships build on support that has already been provided to 61 solar PhD and postdoctoral researchers.

The fellowships will total up to a cost of approximately $3 million, with each fellowship providing up to $40,000 per year over three years. New applications for more fellowships will be open in the second half of 2013.

Universities where individuals have received grants this time around include the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, The University of Wollongong, University of Queensland, CSIRO, University of Melbourne, and the University of South Australia.

Much of the funded research focuses on improving the efficiency of solar cells in order to lower costs and make room for cheap mass production, through investigating silicon and other such parts of cells.

Other areas of focus include the use of alternative metals in solar technology production, modelling and other ways of performance improvement.

We're looking forward to what these research projects come up with – it's always great to see solar power become more accessible and affordable for all Australians.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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