• ARENA has selected 16 research projects in the field of solar PV technology for AUD 15.14 million funding
  • It is the 1st time the agency has sought applications for end-of-life solutions for solar panels
  • All the projects will explore advanced silicon, tandem solar cells, and sustainable end-of-life processes for the technology

A total of 16 research projects in Australia targeting solar PV panel efficiency improvements, overall cost reductions and end-of-life issues have made the cut to receive AUD 15.14 million ($11 million) funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). It expects over 50 full time equivalent positions to be created across the 16 projects.

Winners will use the proceeds to support solar PV projects in the space of advanced silicon and improvement in overall cost effectiveness of silicon based solar panels that are already in mass production; tandem silicon including antimony chalcogenide, durable silicon perovskite tandem PV; new materials as perovskite modules, enhanced silicon solar cells or those that have the potential to reach breakthrough cost efficiencies or for new deployment applications; and end-of-life solutions for solar PV products including upfront solar PV panel designs and end-of-life processing for their sustainable management.

ARENA says it is for the first time that it has sought applications to address end-of-life solar PV issues.

“We’re very pleased with the level of interest which is reflected in the great variety of projects across the priority areas, particularly in the Advanced Silicon field where Australia leads the world,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “A key part of the funding round was finding a solution to the end-of-life of solar panels and we’re excited to see some interesting new research into this area. It’s an important part in our transition to renewable energy as we need to ensure that materials used in solar panels can be recycled or repurposed for future use.”

The funding amount has been distributed between 6 Australian universities to be deployed over 2-year period for the following projects:

Australian National University

  • Physical vapour deposited passivating contacts for high efficiency silicon solar cells
  • Simplifying production of high-efficiency silicon solar cells
  • Further reducing tandem costs while achieving high conversion efficiency and stability
  • Perovskite modules that are stable under real-world conditions
  • Heterocontact-Polysilicon Hybrid Interdigitated Back Contact Solar Cells

University of New South Wales

  • Reduced Solar Module Temperature R&D project
  • Lower PV cost through luminescence imaging and machine-learning
  • Advanced Silicon next-generation selective-emitters for commercial solar panels
  • A highly efficient, low-cost and eco-friendly recycling technology for silicon photovoltaic panels
  • Closed-loop recycling & manufacturing end-of-life silicon photovoltaic modules: towards a circular economy
  • Antimony chalcogenide: a top cell alternative for Silicon tandem cells

University of Sydney

  • Durable Silicon Perovskite Tandem PV
  • Triple Junction Silicon-Perovskite-Perovskite Tandem PV

Macquarie University

  • Substitution of niche-market PV production tools with cost-effective consumer-electronics technology

University of Melbourne

  • Enhanced silicon solar cells using Singlet Fission

Swinburne University

  • Electrically-Enhanced Recycling Process for End of Life Silicon PV-Cells

This funding round was massively oversubscribed with ARENA receiving more than 50 applications representing a total project value of over AUD 150 million, while original amount committed by the agency was AUD 15 million when it was announced in December 2019.

In September 2020, the Federal Government of Australia announced a new long term funding worth AUD 1.62 billion ($1.16 billion) for ARENA including guaranteed baseline funding of AUD 1.43 billion ($1.02 billion) over the next 10 years. The government agency says this will secure its future beyond 2022.