Funding, Renewables, Solar

ARENA grants $41.5 million for ultra-low-cost solar research

Local solar researchers have received a significant boost with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) awarding $41.5 million in funding across 13 research projects to support research and development (R&D) and commercialisation initiatives that aim to reduce the cost of solar.

This recent round of funding from the Federal Government agency aligns with its “Solar 30 30 30” goal – a target of 30 per cent module efficiency and a cost of 30 cents per installed watt at utility scale by 2030 in Australia – and supports R&D for ultra-low-cost solar.

The funding has been awarded to researchers from three Australian universities: University of NSW, Australian National University and University of Sydney.

The 2030 goal of “Solar 30 30 30” is considered ambitious, thus the latest round of funding factoring in commercialisation prospects, which will take place after each project’s core R&D phase to assist getting new solar technologies into the market.

The $41.5 million ARENA funding is divided into two streams:

  • Stream 1: Cells and modules ($27.5 million).
  • Stream 2: Balance of system, operations and maintenance – to accelerate innovation to drive down upfront and ongoing costs of utility scale solar PV in the field ($14 million).

“Australia’s solar researchers have helped make solar PV the cheapest form of energy in history, but to create a future in which Australian solar energy supplies the world with clean power, fuels and products, we need to be ambitious and drive the cost of solar even lower,” says ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“ARENA is supporting these universities with $41.5 million in funding to get behind the target of ‘Solar 30 30 30’ to deliver ultra-low-cost solar, helping optimise Australia’s transition to renewable electricity and achieve our emissions reduction targets.”

Ultra-low-cost solar is a crucial element in ARENA’s strategic priority to upscale the production of low-cost renewable hydrogen, and unlock decarbonisation pathways for heavy industry, including low-emission materials such as green steel and aluminium.

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