UNSW Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence to close after losing government funding to car scheme

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Prime Minister Julia Gillard plans on giving AUD$2,000 to owners of pre-1995 vehicles who upgrade to brand new, cleaner cars. But, says the newspaper, the fine print on the announcement has revealed it’s funded by raiding existing environmental programs from solar power to low-emissions technology.

As part of the programme, Greens Senator Christine Milne said the Labor proposal will see the UNSW Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence lose its funding.

In 2007, researchers at the centre won several Eureka Prizes for producing the world’s most efficient and low-cost solar cells."They’ve invented several new technologies in solar and now we are going to see that institution defunded," she said. "This is an absolutely disaster because it sends a global message that Australia doesn’t value its cutting edge research scientists."

Milne expects scientists employed under executive director Professor Martin Green to take jobs overseas."There were 70 scientists there but now the centre will be disbanded." She added that Labor should stop using political advertisements that feature solar power considering how deep the proposed cuts to the industry will be.

Green could not be reached for comment.