US and Australia join solar forces

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard explained the U.S.-Australia Solar Research Collaboration initiative will support joint projects specifically designed to reduce the cost of solar technologies.

The Australian Government has said it is committing up to AUD$50 million from the Renewable Energy Future Fund to support this initiative. It was not mentioned whether the U.S. would also be contributing to the project.

“Solar power has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide clean and renewable energy,” said a statement on the Australian Government’s website. “However, the cost of solar technologies still represents one of the greatest barriers to its wider commercial take-up. The joint initiative will address this barrier – building on expertise and collaboration between Australian and U.S. researchers.”

It added the initiative will see new research on advanced solar technology projects, such as dual junction photovoltaics devices, hot-carrier solar cells and high temperature receivers. Funding will also reportedly be provided for exchange programs and research scholarships focused on achieving affordable solar energy solutions.

The Australian Solar Institute (ASI) – which is already said to be driving research and development to make solar energy more efficient – will manage the Commonwealth’s contribution.

The announcement comes after Australia recently received a USD$500,000 grant from the U.S. State Department to support the work of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute in developing countries.