Australia provides new funding to boost solar panel research

CANBERRA, June 24 (Xinhua) — The Australian government has announced new funding for research into alternative materials for solar panels.

Chris Bowen, the minister for climate change and energy, on Friday said the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has granted 45 million Australian dollars (31 million US dollars) in funding over the next eight years to the Australian Center for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) ).

New research will focus on tandem cells that stack layers of materials to capture more energy from sunlight.

“Australia has all the ingredients to become a renewable energy superpower with this government working collaboratively to ensure secure, affordable and reliable energy that drives down emissions,” Bowen told the Guardian Australia.

Solar technology developed by ACAP Director Martin Green is embedded in 90 percent of the current silicon module panel production worldwide, with his research also having supported Australia holding world records for efficiency for 30 of the last 38 years, said the ARENA’s media release on Friday.

In 2014, ACAP researchers became the first to develop cells with 40 percent efficiency converting sunlight to electricity.

Currently solar energy provides approximately 15 percent of Australia’s electricity — the ACAP figure is hoping to increase to 50 percent.

It is aiming for mass production of solar cells with 30 percent efficiency at a cost of 30 cents a watt by 2030 compared to 70 cents a watt for 23-24 percent efficiency currently.

“The next decade promises to be the most exciting and important in solar photovoltaics, ever, with massively uptake and technological change,” Green said.

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