Funding boost to secure ultra low-cost solar

The Albanese Government is backing Aussie scientists and researchers looking to make solar cells cheaper and more effective, helping to create jobs, clean up emissions intensive industry and make Australia a renewable energy superpower.

Through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), 13 research and development projects around Australia will share in $41.5 million for research on solar PV to reduce its cost, improve cell efficiency and support the commercialisation of new technology.

Reducing the cost of solar is an important step to make renewable hydrogen viable as a power source for heavy industries, enabling them to produce their products while reducing emissions.

Projects that will receive funding include research into screen printing of industrial solar cells at the terawatt scale and the use of robotics to rollout and maintain solar fields.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said cost-efficiencies were crucial to seizing the economic opportunities of clean energy and meeting Australia’s emissions targets.

“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy, and it’s getting cheaper. Ultra-low cost solar will be critical to meeting our emissions-reduction targets through the production of low-cost renewable hydrogen, and help Australia export green products and energy to the world,” Minister Bowen said.

“Australia has been a world leader on solar PV research for decades. The same universities that blazed the solar PV trail will step up again to help get utility-scale technology off the ground and help transform Australia into a renewable energy superpower.”

The University of New South Wales, Australian National University and The University of Sydney will share in the funding, which will help build on their world-leading photovoltaic cell and module development. 

Their projects align with ARENA’s goal to increase solar panel efficiency to 30 per cent – converting 30 per cent of solar energy into usable energy – and lower generation cost to 30 cents a watt by 2030.

Funding for ARENA and DCCEEW was maintained in the 2022-23 Budget and the agency is delivering key budget measures, including $224.5 million for the Community Batteries for Household Solar grants program.