India's renewable energy sector will receive a significant boost with the announcement of an Australian Government sponsorship package for Indian engineers to study with world class solar power experts at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

A team of UNSW scientists holds the world record in solar cell efficiency and the university is working closely with solar cell manufacturers worldwide to reduce the cost per watt of solar generated power. UNSW offers the world's first photovoltaic and solar energy engineering degree program.

The Australian Government has awarded UNSW $5.2 million to train next-generation solar energy engineers from Asia-Pacific nations, specifically India, China and India. The sponsorship package is part of the Australian Government's commitment to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), of which India is a leading member.

The UNSW's School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering will train 145 overseas students between 2008-11. The school will offer five PhD and 80 MEngSc part-sponsored places, 40 in 2008 and 40 in 2009, for students from India, China or Korea. Fully sponsored undergraduate places will be available for Chinese students.

Globally, the solar power sector is growing at about 40 per cent a year, constrained only by the limited supplies and purified silicon for solar cells. The world record efficiency of 24.7 per cent achieved by UNSW scientists for conventional solar cells, plus incremental reductions in the amount of silicon required in manufacturing, is enhancing solar energy's appeal as an emissions free power source.

India's rising power demand and existing electricity shortfall, it's rapidly growing economy and rising greenhouse gas emissions means solar power is expected to play an important role in the country's future energy mix. The sector is already attracting significant investment, including a joint venture between BP and Tata.

"Solar will be vastly important for India. Solar has enormous potential to bring clean power to hundreds of millions of rural and urban Indians not yet connected to the electricity grid and to take pressure off strained existing electricity supplies," said Dr Richard Corkish, Head, UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.

"India has been focused on wind and biomass as renewable energy sources, but is just now coming to realize the great potential of solar."

The APP brings together Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States to address the challenges of climate change, energy security and air pollution in a way that encourages economic development and reduces poverty. These Asia-Pacific countries represent around half the world's emissions, energy use, GDP and population.

For more information about the contract visit:

More information about the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate:

Media contacts: Dr Richard Corkish, UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering: 02-9385-4068 orDan Gaffney, UNSW media office: 0411 156 015.