Australia Funds Research to Commercialize Silicon-Perovskite Tandem Tech

Fund recipient University of Sydney is partnering with solar tech firm SunDrive


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

ARENA’s funding is part of a multi-million-dollar national financial support aimed at stacking perovskite atop silicon to form tandem solar cells, rather than using only silicon which has limited stability and efficiency.

“The idea of this stacking is to convert more energy from the sun to electrical power. There isn’t much room for silicon to improve because its theoretical limit is only 30%, but for perovskite-silicon tandem, it is 40%. The efficiency that can be achieved by a perovskite-silicon tandem in a laboratory is now over 30%, while the highest efficiency for a silicon cell on its own is just below 27% in the laboratory and around 23% commercially,” said Anita Ho-Baillie of the University of Sydney.

She added that the funding will be used to improve the durability of perovskite solar cells, particularly under the combination of thermal and light stress.

While studies are still being conducted to achieve balanced stability in perovskite solar cells, their efficiencies are already approaching those of silicon solar cells.

Perovskites are crystal structures made from mineral compounds, and the metal halide version is particularly useful for solar-cell applications.

University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor and President Mark Scott said, “This funding aligns with the University’s mission of supporting world-leading research, working with industries, to address global challenges, such as providing sustainable energy generation solutions captured in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”

The scientists in the research will use SunDrive’s expertise to develop industry-relevant manufacturing processes that serve to be cost-effective for mass commercialization. The company has made advancements in transcending lab-scale proof-of-concept to commercial, full-size solar panel fabrication.

Anita Ho-Baillie with a solar cell (Source: University of Sydney)

In October 2022, SunDrive raised AU$ 21 million (~$13 million) from Clean Energy Finance Corp with Main Sequence Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, and Grok Ventures.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said, “ARENA is supporting these universities with $41.5 million in funding to get behind the target of ‘Solar 30 30 30’ to deliver ultra-low-cost solar, helping to optimize Australia’s transition to renewable electricity and achieve our emissions reduction targets.”

In December 2022, ARENA announced AU176 million (~$118 million) in conditional funding to support eight grid-scale battery projects across Australia.