Five major solar energy research and development projects being undertaken by researchers at the Australian National University received more than $9.1 million in new funding on Tuesday.
The grants came from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), an independent agency established by the government in 2012, as part of its strategy to increase the use of renewable energy technologies in Australia by making them competitive with conventional energy sources.
In the first stage, ARENA is making a $21.5 million investment in 12 cutting edge solar projects, with the funds being matched by over 6.5 times worth of contributions from other partners.
The projects led by ANU scientists include research to make it easier to manufacture solar cells, research into making silicon solar cells and solar modules more efficient and affordable, and two projects to facilitate the commercialisation of high-temperature solar thermal technology.
Of four institutions to receive grants, the ANU had the most projects funded by the scheme, and the project to receive the bulk of the money is to improve the surface of silicon solar cells to maximise cell efficiency with an easily-manufactured design.
Titled "advanced surface and contact technologies improving solar cells", the $15.8 million project received $4.1 million from ARENA.
It's being conducted by researchers in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science in partnership with the University of New South Wales, TRINA Solar, the largest supplier of solar cells to the Australian market, and Dutch company Tempress.
ANU Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young, said the grants proved the benefits of the University's research and its close collaboration with industry.
"These high-technology projects are developing the industries of the future and will help Australia become a world leader in clean energy," Professor Young said.
"These research projects are a prime example of how universities and industry can work together to solve problems and address the world's future energy needs."
The CSIRO also received grants for three projects, ranging from $2.75 million to $850,000, and a project led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in which the ANU is a collaborating partner, also won an ARENA grant to help develop highly efficient tandem solar cells.