Photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering is an area of research, development, and demonstration in Australia. Two Australian Research Council Centres play a key role.
The School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of NSW is, according to its website, the first organisation internationally to offer undergraduate training in the area of Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, and since then has extended the educational programs offered to include postgraduate and research training opportunities. It is widely recognised for its research in the area of photovoltaics, most of which is now conducted under the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics.
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics officially opened on 13th June 2003. The Centre is engaged in silicon photovoltaic research and applying these advances to the related field of photonics. The Centre is made up of five research teams dedicated to finding novel ways of improving the efficiency and cost of silicon based photovoltaic and photonic devices.
Scientists have recently devised a new manufacturing technique that could boost the efficiency of an inexpensive type of solar cell by up to 50%, making the technology an economically feasible alternative to fossil fuels.
|PERL Solar Cell||Passivated Emitter Rear Locally Diffused (PERL) solar cell developed at UNSW holds the world record for high efficiency.|
|Semiconductor Fingers||Semiconductor finger technology was developed at UNSW. Fingers of heavily doped semiconductor running parallel to front surface electrical contacts reduce the effect of the dead layer of commercial solar cells.|
|CSG||Crystalline Silicon on Glass (CSG) solar cells developed at UNSW are thin-film silicon devices directly ont glass. The technology is now in commercial production in Germany being produced by CSG Solar AG.|
The focus for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Solar Energy Systems is the development of improved silicon concentrator solar cells for 10-50 sun linear concentrators. Centre activities are located at the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the Australian National University. The Director of the ARC Centre for Solar Energy Systems is Professor Andrew Blakers and the Deputy Director is Dr Vernie Everett.
|SLIVER Cell (TM)||Using just one tenth of the costly and limited supply of silicon used in conventional solar panels while matching power, performance, and efficiency. Professor Andrew Blakers, Director of the Australian National University Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, invented the technology with colleague Dr Klaus Weber and developed it with funding from energy supplier Origin Energy and the Australian Research Council. Blakers and Weber won the Australian Institute of Physics' Walsh Medal for their work. Origin Energy is presently developing SLIVER modules for commercialisation at its A$20M pilot plant in Regency Park, South Australia.|
|Dye Sensitised||Dye Sensitised cells are photoelectrochemical solar cells. Manufacturing techniques developed at ANU lead to commercialisation of the technology at Dyesol in Queanbeyan, NSW.|