The study was developed by ARENA to identify the highest priority RD&D needs to accelerate the competitiveness of solar energy in Australia, and the most efficient approach to investing in RD&D to meet these needs to maximise research outcomes and economic and social returns on this investment.
Federal and state governments in Australia have set a number of emissions reduction and renewable energy targets for the period up to 2030 to help combat climate change and drive an increase in the proportion of Australia’s energy mix derived from renewable sources. Solar energy is integral to this effort as, alongside wind, it has the greatest potential to be scaled in Australia in the period of the commitments. However, the growth in solar energy utilisation required to meet these commitments will only occur if there is continued reduction in the cost and efficiency of solar energy; a conducive investment environment for solar energy; and, a broader set of market and technological challenges – such as grid integration ‐ are overcome.
A key lever to accelerate cost and efficiency improvements – and potentially overcome broader challenges ‐ is targeted investment in research, development and demonstration (RD&D) activity.
Targeted RD&D can help improve the performance (both efficiency and reliability) of technology; decrease the cost of technology (at the manufacturing, generation, storage, integration, transmission and distribution, and end user stages of the value chain) and – in the later stages – reduce the investment risk of adopting new renewable energy sources by supporting demonstration projects.