Solar PV research and development in Australia
As a major source of renewable energy in Australia, even small improvements to the technology in solar photovoltaic (PV) cells can translate into large gains as more and more solar PV panels are installed on rooftops and in solar farms across the nation.
More than two million or 21 percent of Australian households now have rooftop solar PV, with a combined capacity exceeding 10 GW. By January 2019, large-scale solar farms operating in Australia had the ability to generate over 3000 MW, with an additional 2,881 MW either under construction or financially committed.
Australian scientists have been leading the way in solar research and development (PDF 6.1MB) , with groundbreaking innovations such as the high efficiency PERC cell, and are continuing to make improvements towards making solar power an ultra low-cost renewable energy.
ARENA’s purpose is to accelerate Australia’s shift to affordable and reliable renewable energy. By connecting investment, knowledge and people to deliver energy innovation, we are helping to build the foundation of a renewable energy ecosystem in Australia.
While Australia’s capability in solar PV research and development is world-leading, this position needs support in order to be maintained, and ARENA recognises significant opportunities remain in pursuing even cheaper and more efficient PV cells and panels.
We are therefore supporting innovation in solar PV to drive down the cost of electricity generation in line with the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Goals. The target is a cost of AU 3.9 c/kWh by 2030, which equates to around half of today’s costs. Achieving this cost reduction would not only make solar PV technology more accessible to a wider range of global consumers, but also unlock other ways to use solar energy such as producing ‘green’ hydrogen.
We have provided more than $290 million to around 300 solar research and development projects since 2009 through funding programs inherited from the Australian Solar Institute, or run by ARENA since 2012.
These include projects that seek to break through the efficiency barriers of solar cells, increase the lifetime and reliability of solar panels, improve manufacturing techniques, reduce end of life costs and environmental impact, and those that will unlock other cost reductions such as making panels easier to transport and install, or increasing integration that can create value-add opportunities.
ARENA-funded solar projects have helped to break at least 11 world records on solar PV cell efficiency.
ARENA also supports the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics which provides a collaborative, strategic focus to innovation that can be incorporated into current manufacturing techniques, seeds new innovations, gives access to world-class facilities, and provides fellowships to nurture the next generation of solar PV researchers and engineers. Read more about ARENA’s support for solar PV R&D.
ARENA shares knowledge, insights and data from our funded projects to help the renewable energy industry and other projects learn from each other’s experiences. Our projects capture high-quality quantitative and qualitative data and information, linked with the needs of the market, while respecting our recipients’ commercial and contractual rights.
Reports from our solar PV R&D projects can be found on the ARENA Knowledge Bank.
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