New federal funding set to light up solar future

THE Federal Government has announced it will fund a joint solar research program between Australia and the US, providing $83 million for the eight-year partnership.
Federal Resources and Energy minister Martin Ferguson said the majority of the funding would go towards the creation of two strategic research initiatives: the $33 million US-Australia Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics, led by the University of NSW; and the $35 million Australian Thermal Research Initiative, led by the CSIRO.
“These research initiatives will accelerate solar technology development faster than either country could do working alone,” Mr Ferguson said.
In the course of the research program, six Australian universities will work with Sandia Corporation, Arizona State University, the CSIRO and the US Department of Energy to develop new solar technology, with the aim of lowering the cost of solar thermal power from 25 cents per kilowatt hour to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour.
CSIRO energy transformed flagship director Alex Wonhas said the funding would allow CSIRO to work with some of the world’s brightest scientific minds to develop the innovative technology.
“A world-class collaboration of this scale ensures we are well on our way to lower the cost of solar thermal technology,” he said.
“Demonstrating the technology is vital, it is what attracts investment and development in the industry.”
Mr Ferguson said the remaining $15.5 million of the funding would be directed at a further 11 collaborative research projects.
These include the creation of a solar energy forecasting system; the optimisation of central receiver s for advanced power cycles; development of a pilot-scale plant for the production of solar anti-reflection coatings; and the deployment of a combined cycle power plant using solar reformed gas in northern WA.

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