Funding boosts local solar research sector

The Australian Solar Institute (ASI) joined the Minister for Resources and Energy, the Hon. Martin Ferguson AM MP, to open the Australian National University’s new solar labs and announce solar scholarships winners in November 2010.

ASI executive director, Mark Twidell said the new labs provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment which will enable ANU to expand its groundbreaking research and continue to attract and retain talented solar researchers and work with major commercial co-investors.

“ASI investments in institutions like the ANU generate significant benefit to the sector in Australia and help to cement Australia’s research leadership position in this rapidly advancing industry,” he said.

Eight Scholarships and Fellowships worth $1.5 million and 14 research and development grants worth $21.6m were announced. The total leveraged value of these projects, including research organisation, industry and state government contributions is around $73.4 m.

The University of New South Wales; CSIRO (Newcastle); the Australian National University; Graphite Energy; the University of Sydney; the University of Melbourne, and CSG Solar will benefit from the funding. Over 25 further domestic and international organisations are participating across the diverse range of project consortia.

ASI chair, Jenny Goddard said the ASI Board chose 14 high-calibre projects that were selected through a competitive merit-based assessment process.

“The response to our two calls for funding was strong. Each of the selected projects offers the potential to advance solar technologies in a way which will increase their commercial competitiveness with other energy sources,” Ms Goddard said.

The round two announcements follow a first round of funding, which was announced in November 2009 and May 2010. To date, the ASI has invested a total of $66.2 m, helping to fund 27 research and development projects with a total leveraged value of around $209 m and involving over 100 researchers.

The ASI also announced its inaugural PhD scholarship and post-doctoral research fellowship award recipients. Jonathon Dore (University of New South Wales), Tom Ratcliff (Australian National University), Nicholas Boerema (University of New South Wales), and Natalie Holmes (University of Newcastle) were awarded PhD scholarships. Recipients of the post- doctoral research fellowships are Dr Xiaojing Hao (University of New South Wales), Dr Raphael Clady (University of Sydney), Dr Ming Liu (University of South Australia), and Dr Wallace Wing Ho Wong (University of Melbourne).