Australia Awards AU$29.5 Million to University for Solar Technology Research

The projects are aimed at reducing the levelized cost of solar photovoltaics


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded AU$29.5 million (~$19.5 million) to the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) for research in solar technologies.

Researchers at SPREE will use the funding across nine projects to study the streams of cells and modules, the balance of the system, and operation and maintenance mechanisms that are targeted to better the solar cells and their stability along with improved energy efficiencies.

The extensive research will help researchers reduce the levelized cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) and improve the efficiencies of cells and solar modules.

ARENA has awarded UNSW a total of AU$41.5 million (~$28 million) to conduct studies and experiments that will support commercialization activities primarily aimed at reducing the cost of solar.

The funding includes an AU$3.7 million (~$2.4 million) grant for the Rear-Junction p-type PERC/ TOPCON Hybrid Solar Cell project.

By combining two solar technologies conceived at UNSW, the project aims to lower the costs of commercial solar cells by improving their performance through conducting experiments.

The second major component of the funding is worth AU$4.8 million (~$3.2 million) for a project that improvises on a decade of singlet fission technique which is a photophysical process that could help researchers exceed the limit of 30% efficiency while maintaining low manufacturing cost.

Further, a grant of AU$3.7 million (~$2.4 million) has been provided to study the optimal O&M strategy and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE)-modeling for ground-mounted PV. The project aims to significantly improve solar power measurement and financial prediction for optimal performance.

A project to assess the silver-lean screen printing for sustainable low-cost industrial PV manufacturing at a terawatt scale will receive a grant of AU$3.3 million (~$2.2 million). The project is aimed at addressing the amount of silver consumption in the production of terawatt-scale solar, which cannot be solved by end-of-life management as the sector grows.

The other five projects for which grants have been sanctioned include the following:

  • AU$3.1 million (~$2 million) for a project on efficient and stable chalcogenide-si tandem cells: integrating commercialized PV technologies
  • AU$2.8 million (~$1.83 million) for daytime inspection solutions for advanced operation and maintenance of solar farms
  • AU$2.7 million (~$1.8 million) for Industrial high-throughput inspection methods for high-efficiency multijunction solar cells
  • AU$2.5 million (~$1.68 million) for a project on the balance of system, machine learning applications for utility-scale PV
  • AU$2.4 million (~$1.6 million) for low-cost and sustainable PV systems for the terawatt scale project

UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research & Enterprise, Nicholas Fisk said, “These awards announced today will further enable our researchers to help solve the world’s shifting and dynamic energy needs as we move post-haste to a sustainable energy paradigm.”

Recently, ARENA awarded AU$2.78 million (~$1.9 million) in funding to the University of Sydney which has partnered with Australian solar technology company SunDrive to research and accelerate the commercialization of silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells.

Last October, engineers from UNSW developed a dual-fuel injection system that allows a diesel engine to operate on a Hydrogen-Diesel hybrid fuel with 90% hydrogen in the mix.