Leading international supplier for the solar power industry, Germany's Roth & Rau AG, will set up a state-of-the-art silicon solar cell production line at the University of New South Wales.

The pilot line will be the backbone of the $20m Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF) at UNSW. The SIRF will be the first solar research and development facility of its kind in Australia.

Head of the UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, Dr Richard Corkish, said the establishment of the SIRF will represent a significant advance in the nation's capabilities in silicon solar photovoltaic technology.

"We are thrilled that the new partnership with Roth and Rau for the SIRF, supported by the Australian Solar Institute, will dramatically boost the impact of Australia's leading solar cell researchers in the Asia-Pacific and beyond," Dr Corkish said.

"For the first time Australia will have a world-class facility to industrialise and demonstrate its champion photovoltaics technologies and train engineers to provide better tools to battle global warming."

Professor Martin Green, Executive Research Director of the University's ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, said: "This is a big step forward. Our students will get first-hand production experience while the pilot line will provide a much-needed test bed for researchers around the country".

UNSW received $5 million in Federal Government funding through the Australian Solar Institute towards the establishment of the SIRF.

The SIRF will be an industrial-grade manufacturing facility that will enable the development of UNSW's silicon solar cell technologies from laboratory processes to factory-ready industrial processes. As a world-class research facility it is also expected to attract top-level research students to UNSW.

Dr Dietmar Roth, CEO of Roth & Rau, said: "We are pleased to bring our solar cell manufacturing equipment and extensive industry expertise to this research facility".

This agreement represents Roth & Rau's first operational presence in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the growth engine of the photovoltaics manufacturing market.

Media contact: Peter Trute, UNSW Media Office | +61 2 9385 1933 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au