Solar partnerships help power India’s future

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will sponsor and host four elite engineering students from India for a solar energy workshop, which will help nurture overseas collaborations with Australian students.

Australia and India have a lot in common when it comes to solar energy: both have an abundance of sunshine, and neither is taking full advantage of this renewable resource, according to UNSW mechanical engineer Dr Rob Taylor.

Dr Taylor, who is working on developing next-generation solar thermal energy systems that convert heat from sunlight into electricity, spearheaded the workshop after securing an internal grant from the Faculty of Engineering.

The four students are from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar near New Delhi and will be linked up with engineering students at UNSW to work on a range of cutting-edge solar energy projects that will continue by correspondence after the workshop ends.

The projects will explore plans for optimised solar-powered cooling systems, the development of solar receivers that can withstand extremely high temperatures, and the design of thermal batteries that could be used as an additional energy source for electric vehicles – allowing climate control without compromising travel range.

Other projects will explore ways that solar energy can be harnessed to more efficiently turn biomass into readily usable fuels and to reduce the environmental impact of water desalination.