UNSW has confirmed its position in the front line of Australian renewable energy research with its selection as a foundation member of the Australian Solar Institute (ASI), a $100m research and innovation grants scheme established by the Federal Government to fast-track solar energy technologies.
The University has received $5 million in Federal funding through the ASI towards the establishment of a state-of-the-art pilot production line for silicon solar cells - the first facility of its kind in Australia and one that will greatly enhance national research and development capacity.
Announcing the ASI this week, Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said the new institute will support greater collaboration between Australian researchers and fund research and development for industry.
"The Institute will provide vital support for researchers in the field of solar photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal to help solar power become cost competitive with other energy sources," Mr Ferguson said.
"The Government believes cost competitiveness is achievable and that solar power is a commercially viable energy option for the Australian community."
UNSW's pilot production line will be known as the Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF). The SIRF is one of three foundation projects in the ASI, with ANU and the CSIRO establishing projects in solar photovoltaics and solar thermal technologies respectively.
UNSW Faculty of Engineering Director of Business Development, David Jordan, said the SIRF will provide the backbone infrastructure for advanced crystalline silicon cell technology at UNSW and ANU.
"UNSW's leading capabilities in photovoltaic research in the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence - have been recognised around the world for many years and with this facility we are able to demonstrate them beyond the lab and in an industrial environment," Mr Jordan said.
A new, purpose-built interim building on the UNSW upper campus will be home to the SIRF initially, while the University's recently announced $150m Energy Technologies Building (ETB) is completed. The Federal Government committed $75m to the ETB in December last year.
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