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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $29.2 million in funding to 20 research projects to propel the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.

The funding was offered to research teams from the University of New South Wales, Australian National University, Monash University, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

ARENA’s third round of funding supports early-stage research to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of solar PV, from creating flexible solar devices to making semi-transparent, high-efficiency solar cells for integrating into windows.

The projects will focus on silicon technologies, as the vast majority of solar panels worldwide are currently made using silicon.

Some projects will aim to develop solar cells using new materials, such as organic photovoltaics and perovskites, which would be lower cost to manufacture, printable or more sustainable.

Together with contributions from industry partners and leading institutions from Asia, Europe and the US, total value of the projects is approximately $102 million.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said Australian innovation was already built into many silicon solar panels made globally, and this funding would accelerate solar PV technology.

Mr Frischknecht said Australia was leading the world in solar PV research and development.

“Over the past five years, ARENA has funded breakthroughs which have helped make solar PV competitive with wind power and we want to take that even further,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This research will improve the technological and commercial readiness of new innovation in solar PV cells and modules, enhance Australia’s position as world-leaders in solar PV R&D and address Australian-specific conditions.” 

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