UNSW is striving to develop solar technology that can deliver 30% photovoltaic cell efficiencies and 30c per watt capital costs at scale.

Achieving these goals will maintain Australia’s global position as a world leader and recordbreaker in solar photovoltaics. We are focused on securing solar photovoltaics as the dominant new energy generation over the next decade by driving down its cost and enabling integration of solar with households, industries and networks. Beyond 2030, we are also exploring solar-powered hydrogen and concentrated solar thermal. To achieve these goals, we are focused on research and development in four key areas:

  • Modules: Improving solar PV manufacturing in partnership with industry to improve the overall performance and reliability of modules.
  • Materials: Exploring new materials that will become the next generation of solar cells including perovskite and organic solar cells.
  • Stewardship: Developing practical processing technologies to allow for the recovery and recycling of valuable materials from used panels.
  • Integration: Developing datasets, models and tools to improve planning and operation of electricity grids with high levels of variable renewable energy.

Key initiatives

UNSW leads the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP). ACAP is developing the next generations of photovoltaic technology, providing a pipeline of opportunities for performance increase and cost reduction. ACAP brings together six Australian research groups, under the leadership of UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering. The leading research groups work directly with industry participants for a pipeline of research impact. Major industry ACAP partners are: Bluescope Steel Ltd., PV Lighthouse Pty Ltd., Raygen Resources Pty Ltd. Tindo Solar, 5B Pty Ltd. and Sundrive Pty Ltd.

Our opportunity to leverage a proven solar innovation ecosystem

UNSW is a world leader and record-breaker in solar PV engineering. In the 1980s, Professor Martin Green (left) led the development of silicon solar photovoltaic technologies, which now account for almost 90% of the global solar cell market. Our School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering remains the world's leading school in this field. A key factor in the commercial success of solar technology at UNSW has been the deep relationships that have been developed with industry both through training students and by housing world-class facilities. In particular, UNSW’s Solar Industrial Research Facility is a photovoltaic pilot production line allowing academics to prototype new technologies and bring them to market, faster. We expect these facilities and our commercial partnerships to continue to drive improvements in solar photovoltaic efficiency and applications for years to come. We are also applying the principles of this innovation ecosystem to other energy capabilities at UNSW.

Scientia Professor Martin Green and three former PhD students were awarded the 2023 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for the development of “PERC” solar PV technology. UNSW
To be replaced with correct image - Professor Xiaojin Hao with Minister Bowen at UNSW SIRF. UNSW