Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Australian Solar Institute provides boost for solar innovation in Australia

AUSTRALIA: The Australian solar industry received a boost today with the announcement of close to $12 million Australian Solar Institute (ASI) Round 3 funding to accelerate solar energy technology development.

The funding was announced by Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP during a visit to Silanna Semiconductor Pty Ltd. in Sydney, which was a successful recipient of ASI funding in 2010. ASI executive director, Mark Twidell, said Silanna has used ASI funding matched with its own investment to demonstrate efficiency improvements to help reduce the cost of solar technology.

“Silanna is a great example of how ASI is able to assist Australian manufacturing companies to diversify and drive innovation in photovoltaic technology,” Twidell said. “Silanna‟s innovations, when commercialised, will be suitable for concentrating photovoltaic applications including power plants and spacecraft.”

ASI investment director, Olivia Coldrey, said ASI is further supporting industry to develop solar technologies through new strategic investment. Ms Coldrey said the announcement includes ASI funding for an exciting, diverse range of solar technologies, particularly concentrating solar power technologies.

“It includes $1.6 million for CSIRO to develop solar hybrid fuels and almost $0.5 million for BlueScope Steel Ltd to collaborate with German researchers to develop thin-film solar cells which can be integrated into buildings,” Ms Coldrey said. “These ASI-funded projects reflect the range and high quality of solar research and development around Australia, and the majority are industry-led.”

Ms Coldrey said a total of $2.3 million has been committed to projects funded under the Australia-Germany Collaborative Solar Research and Development Program.

“Australian and German researchers will work together on projects to accelerate the commercialisation of solar technologies.Both countries are leaders in solar innovation and have a history of successful collaboration.”

Ms Coldrey said the Australian Solar Institute is also helping to grow the skills and capacity of the sector through scholarships and fellowships.

“We are announcing support for eleven PhD Scholars and seven Postdoctoral Fellows for the next three years, on top of eight early and mid career researchers already announced. Supporting the next generation of leading Australian researchers is critical to developing a viable solar industry in Australia.”

Ms Coldrey said ASI investments in developing solar technologies have to date leveraged partner contributions almost three-fold, resulting in a total leveraged portfolio value of almost $260 million.

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