Research boost for solar panel efficiency and cost reduction

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced it has awarded $15.14 million in funding to 16 research projects to help address solar PV panel efficiency, overall cost reductions and end-of-life issues.

The funding has been awarded to research teams from six Australian universities including the Australian National University, Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Swinburne University.

ARENA initially opened the application in December last year with a $15 million commitment. The round received over 50 applications with a total project value of over $150 million.

The two-year R&D projects will support solar PV in the following areas:

  • advanced silicon: improvements to the overall cost-effectiveness of silicon-based panels already in mass market production, and their production processes
  • tandem silicon: increasing the cost-effectiveness of silicon-based solar PV through the use of tandem materials
  • new materials: development of new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications
  • end-of-life: new solutions, including upfront solar PV panel designs and end of life processing, that increase the cost-effectiveness of sustainable end-of-life management of solar PV panels.

The 16 projects selected will strengthen Australia’s world-leading solar PV R&D sector that ARENA has helped establish through its previous funding. This is the first time that ARENA has sought applications for addressing solutions to end-of-life solar PV issues. It is anticipated in excess of 50 full time equivalent positions will be created across the 16 projects.

In addition to end-of-life issues, selected projects will also aim to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar PV for new or established applications and develop new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said it was fantastic to see so much interest in the latest solar R&D round.

“We’re very pleased with the level of interest which is reflected in the great variety of projects across the priority areas, particularly in the Advanced Silicon field where Australia leads the world,” Mr Miller said.

“A key part of the funding round was finding a solution to the end-of-life of solar panels and we’re excited to see some interesting new research into this area. It’s an important part in our transition to renewable energy as we need to ensure that materials used in solar panels can be recycled or repurposed for future use,” he said.

University

Priority Area / Funding Amount / Project Description

Australian National UniversityPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $404,177

Physical vapour deposited passivating contacts for high efficiency silicon solar cells

Australian National UniversityPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $455,322

Simplifying production of high-efficiency silicon solar cells

Australian National UniversityPriority Area: Tandem Silicon

Funding: $1,130,542

Further reducing tandem costs while achieving high conversion efficiency and stability

Australian National UniversityPriority Area: New Materials

Funding: $735,288

Perovskite modules that are stable under real-world conditions

Australian National UniversityPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $507,819

Heterocontact-Polysilicon Hybrid Interdigitated Back Contact Solar Cells

Macquarie UniversityPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $420,000

Substitution of niche-market PV production tools with cost-effective consumer-electronics technology

University of MelbournePriority Area: New Materials

Funding: $1,290,333

Enhanced silicon solar cells using Singlet Fission

University of New South WalesPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $1,767,730

Reduced Solar Module Temperature R&D project

University of New South WalesPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $694,224

Lower PV cost through luminescence imaging and machine-learning

University of New South WalesPriority Area: Advanced Silicon

Funding: $1,232,429

Advanced Silicon next-generation selective-emitters for commercial solar panels

University of New South WalesPriority Area: End of Life

Funding: $1,360,000

A highly efficient, low-cost and eco-friendly recycling technology for silicon photovoltaic panels

University of New South WalesPriority Area: End of Life

Funding: $1,560,000

Closed-loop recycling & manufacturing end-of-life silicon photovoltaic modules: towards a circular economy

University of New South WalesPriority Area: Tandem Silicon

Funding: $693,388

Antimony chalcogenide: a top cell alternative for Silicon tandem cells

University of SydneyPriority Area: Tandem Silicon

Funding: $987,285

Durable Silicon Perovskite Tandem PV

University of SydneyPriority Area: Tandem Silicon

Funding: $1,494,340

Triple Junction Silicon-Perovskite-Perovskite Tandem PV

Swinburne UniversityPriority Area: End of Life

Funding: $404,000

Electrically-Enhanced Recycling Process for End of Life Silicon PV-Cells

TOTAL FUNDING$15,136,877

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.