UNSW solar energy researcher Professor Martin Green has been given the Chinese Government's highest award for foreign experts for his contribution to China's scientific progress through his work in renewable energy.

Professor Green, of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, received the award in a special ceremony held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing before the Chinese National Day celebrations at the start of October.

The professor was one of 50 experts who received awards after being nominated by one of China's provinces.

Professor Green was nominated by Jiangsu Province, the home province of solar cell company Suntech-Power, which was founded by his former student Dr Zhengrong Shi.

Suntech nominated Professor Green for the Jiangsu Provincial award in 2005, the same year in which it reportedly became the first private mainland Chinese company to list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Professor Green was also a special guest at the Chinese National Day Banquet, where he and his wife Judy were seated alongside Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"It was wonderful being extended such a high honour," Professor Green said.

Following Suntech-Power's success, six other former students of Professor Green have also started successful Chinese companies which listed in the past two years on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.

Professor Green's latest honour follows his winning the 2007 SolarWorld Einstein Award for his work in photovoltaics in September.