ARENA announces AUD $20m PV R&D funding round

With a view to propelling more research and development into solar PV, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an AUD $20 million funding round, which will take place between 24 May and 21 June this year.

As shown by research studies, solar is one of the most cost-effective R&D investments across energy technologies, and according to ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht, this type of funding would help reduce the future cost of solar.

“Australia has some of the best solar PV researchers in the world, and we want to build what we’ve already accomplished. This leverages the impressive gains already made in cost reduction and cell efficiency. And that is just the beginning. We see a future where solar cells might be on every surface,” he said.

Since 2012, ARENA has committed $109.3 million in funding for solar PV R&D projects, fellowships and scholarships.

“By continuing to support innovation in solar PV, we believe that solar power could produce more than 30% of Australia’s electricity within 15 years,” Frischknecht said.

ARENA is expected to award grants between AUD $500,000 and AUD $5 million for single projects focused on emerging and established solar PV cells and modules technology.

“We are calling for research projects that demonstrate the potential to lower the cost of materials or improve performance that will reduce costs or increase efficiency,” he said.

Earlier this month, ARENA included accelerating solar PV innovations among its new investment priorities to help Australia’s transition to reliable, affordable and low emission energy.

In terms of its large-scale solar funding round, ARENA posted a perfect score last week, as every of the 12 solar PV plants included in its grant program had reached the pipeline, with NSW’s White Rock Solar Farm the 12th and final project to achieve financial close.

Meanwhile, Australia’s burgeoning rooftop solar market is recognized as a solid ground for the AUD $22.5 million demand response initiative launched last week by ARENA and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with a goal to manage electricity supply during extreme peaks and plans to trial 100 MW in South Australia and Victoria next summer.