Professor Martin Green has won the Global Energy Prize for his achievements in research and technology in solar photovoltaics.
The Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW was selected from 44 contenders from 14 countries by a committee of leading scientists, and shares the $820,000 prize this year with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, an expert in thermal power engineering. He is the first Australian to win the award.
Presented each year by the President of the Russian Federation, the Global Energy Prize has a reputation score of 0.48 on the IREG List of International Academic Awards, with a Nobel Prize scoring 1.0. The ten finalists this year included businessman and engineer Elon Musk.
Professor Green has established a reputation as a world-leading specialist in both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar cells, and the research group he founded in UNSW Engineering is the largest and best-known university-based photovoltaic research group in the world.
The enormous reduction in costs in photovoltaic solar systems in recent years is directly related to his scientific efforts, largely through the work of his students in establishing manufacturing centres in Asia.
His record-breaking achievements stretch across decades. In 1989, his team supplied the solar cells for the first photovoltaic system with an energy conversion efficiency of 20 per cent. And in 2014, he headed the development team that first demonstrated the conversion of sunlight into electricity with an energy conversion efficiency of 40 per cent.
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said: “As a world-leading researcher in photovoltaics, Martin has delivered truly transformational outcomes in renewable energy for more than three decades.
Professor Green said: “The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news.
“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.
The highly prestigious Global Energy Prize was established in Russia in 2003 through the Global Energy Association, with the support of leading Russian Energy companies Gazprom, FGCUES, and Surgutneftegas. The choice of winners is made by a committee of 20 leading scientists from 13 countries.