New funds to bolster ANU clean energy research

26 August 2014

The ANU will enhance its position as a leader in clean energy research after receiving $9 million in new funding for five major research and development projects.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced details of the research funding, designed to help make renewable energy more affordable and to boost the amount of clean energy produced in Australia.

“This funding announcement by ARENA will enhance the research capability of the ANU solar research programs, and will also substantially improve opportunities for training of PhD students and early career researchers,” said Professor Andrew Blakers, Director of the ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems.

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.

A separate project led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in which the ANU is a collaborating partner, also won ARENA funding to help develop highly efficient tandem solar cells.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO said the new funding 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.”

Dr Matthew Stocks is leading ARENA-supported collaborative research to find better and more efficient ways to manufacture solar cells.

“This project provides an opportunity for the ANU and UNSW to work closely with a leading solar industry manufacturer, TRINA Solar, who will contribute more than $1 million,” he said.

“By enabling us to work closely with industry, the innovative solutions that the team develops to improve solar cell performance will end up in products that help form part of our future energy solutions.”

ARENA was established by the Australian Government as an independent agency on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia.

ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy.

Details of the ARENA-funded projects led by ANU researchers:

1. Advanced surface and contact technologies improving solar cells
ARENA Funding: $4.1 million. Total project value: $15.8 million
Partners: University of New South Wales, Trina Solar (China), Tempress (Netherlands).

2. High-temperature solar thermal energy storage via manganese-oxide based redox cycling
ARENA Funding: $1.2 million. Total project value: $3.07 million.
Partners: University of Colorado Boulder, ETH Zurich, IT Power Pty Ltd.

3. Eliminating material quality barriers to low cost, very high efficiency silicon solar cells and modules
ARENA Funding: $2.0 million. Total project value: $7.0 million
Partners: The University of New South Wales, BT Imaging Pty Ltd, Sinton Instruments (USA), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fh-ISE, Germany), Institute for Solar Energy Research Hameln (ISFH, Germany), The University of Warwick (UK), SunEdison (USA), Apollon Solar (France).

4. Bladed receivers with active airflow control
ARENA Funding: $1.4 million.Total project value: $3.5 million
Partners: University of Adelaide, Sandia National Laboratories, CSIRO.

5. Photovoltaic modules for the Australian environment (PV-MATE)
ARENA Funding: $503,000. Total project value: $1.2 million
Partners: Tindo solar (Adelaide), PV Lab Australia (Canberra), Sunpulse K. K. (Tokyo, Japan), Brisbane Materials Technology (Brisbane), PV Lighthouse (Coledale, NSW).