Arena backs Australia solar R&D

Australia's Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) is investing A$21.5m ($20m) in funding 12 solar technology R&D projects, it said.

The projects were selected from 110 applications, including from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Australian National University (ANU), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

"Arena's investment is being matched by substantial contributions from domestic and international partners, resulting in projects totalling more than $70m," Arena CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

The projects range from enhancing existing systems to advancing emerging technologies in PV, solar thermal and storage, which aim to significantly reduce the cost or increase the efficiency of solar power.

"UNSW is seeking to develop an innovative tandem solar cell using perovskite, an emerging material that can be paired with silicon to produce solar panels that could be cheaper and more efficient than conventional silicon-only panels," Frischknecht said.

For example, CSIRO plans to design an heliostat mirror and control system that would enable cost-effective deployment of central-tower solar thermal installations, potentially opening a new domestic market.