The Australian Solar Institute (ASI) operated from August 2009 to December 2012 before being merged into ARENA.
ASI was established to keep Australia, which was already considered a global leader in solar research, at the forefront of solar innovation. The Australian Government provided ASI with $150 million to invest in activities that aimed to reduce the cost, and increase the competitiveness of, photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies.
ASI developed a portfolio approaching $450 million in value from the initial $150 million, supporting over 350 solar researchers across more than 120 projects. These included:
- enabling research that looked for ways to overcome barriers to the market integration and uptake of solar technologies
- positioning Australian solar research and development for the longer term through investments in research infrastructure and in the skills of the next generation of solar research leaders
- collaborative research partnerships with the United States and Germany
- knowledge sharing
ASI’s investment portfolio, activities and partnerships were transferred to ARENA on 31 December 2012.
ASI foundation projects
Three major foundation projects were announced upon the formation of ASI, which supported key research infrastructure at three globally recognised centres of solar excellence in Australia. Two have since been completed and are fully operational.
- Australian National University (ANU) Foundation Project
- CSIRO Foundation Project
A third project at the University of New South Wales did not proceed.
Round 1: project grants
The first project funding round invested more than $27 million in research to improve the cost effectiveness of both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies, with a leveraged project value of more than $90 million.
Round 2: project grants
This round of project grants invested over $20 million in pre-commercial photovoltaic technologies and concentrating solar thermal technologies aimed at reducing the cost of solar energy. The leveraged project value is more than $62 million.
Round 3: project grants
This round invested almost $12 million in concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. It focussed on CSP storage and hybrid technologies and those that would reduce its field costs, as well as pilot demonstration projects to advance new CSP technologies. In conjunction with state and territory governments, the round also called for projects that aimed to fast-track the commercial viability of solar power in remote regions of Australia. The leveraged project value is more than $31 million.
United States – Australia Solar Energy Collaboration Research Exchanges
Through this program, ASI supported six high-calibre Australian researchers to undertake a research exchange to the US to work in collaboration with a US university, national laboratory, or another nationally-accredited US research facility.
They spent three to 12 months at their respective US-based institutions conducting research that will lead to the advancement of innovation in Australian solar research, development and/or industry.
United States – Australia Solar Energy Collaboration Foundation Round
This round allocated close to $12 million across seven projects that build on existing areas of collaboration between the US and Australia.
It focused on projects that will accelerate commercial outcomes in Hot Carrier cells, Multi-junction c-Si PV devices, high temperature SCT receivers, and measurements and characterisation.
United States – Australia Solar Energy Collaboration Open Funding Round
Building on the foundation round, ASI invested more than $15 million through the open funding round for projects to develop and improve technology or to create products or processes to accelerate the commercial deployment of solar energy.
Strategic Research Initiative
The Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) supports long-term, strategic and collaborative national research programs to underpin the researcher capacity required to deliver ‘over the horizon’ technologies not yet commercially viable.
ASI joined forces with ARENA to fund the $33 million Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics, led by the University of NSW, and the $35 million Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), led by CSIRO.
The leveraged value of these projects is more than $175 million.
Supporting projects that maximise Australian-German research synergies
ASI invested more than $3.76 million in support of collaborative solar research and development projects between Australian and German researchers, with a leveraged project value of approximately $10.3 million.
Skills development & capacity building
In an effort to ensure Australia maintains its position as a global leader in solar innovation, ASI awarded 62 PhD scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships to early career researchers at institutions around the country through the Skills Development Program (two have since withdrawn).
ASI invested almost $14 million on specific skills development initiatives.
This booklet highlights the funding investments and activities of the Australian Solar Institute during its lifespan, from August 2009 to December 2012.