ARENA awards A$41.5 million in funding for low-cost solar research in Australia

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With the R&D schemes, ARENA aims to achieve its ‘Solar 30 30 30’ target of 30% module efficiency and a cost of A$0.30/W at utility scale projects by 2030. Image: Edify Energy.

Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded A$41.5 million (US$28.51 million) in funding to 13 research projects aimed at reducing solar costs.

The funding has been awarded to research teams from three Australian universities – the University of New South Wales, The Australian National University and The University of Sydney – and is distributed into two blocks to reduce the levelised cost of solar PV and improve cell and module efficiency.

More than half of the funding (A$27.5 million) across eight projects has been awarded on research and development (R&D) and innovation in solar cells and modules, while the remaining A$14 million is focused on accelerating the innovations that drive down costs of utility-scale solar PV projects through balance of systems and operations and maintenance.

This funding was launched a year ago, and was built on ARENA’s ‘Solar 30 30 30’ target of 30% module efficiency and a cost of A$0.30/W at utility scale projects by 2030. This is not the only scheme ARENA launched last year, with a A$43 million programme to decarbonise Australia’s industrial sector in October.

Darren Miller, CEO at ARENA, said: “Australia’s solar researchers have helped to make solar PV the cheapest form of energy in history, but to create a future in which Australian solar energy supplies the world with clean power, fuels and products, we need to be ambitious and drive the cost of solar even lower.”

Through its R&D programmes, ARENA has committed A$118.5 million in grant funding to 145 solar PV projects since 2012.

In addition, the agency has also supported the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics with a A$45 million funding last year to continue solar research activities until 2030.

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