UNSW will play a lead role in developing new technologies to make solar power cheaper and more efficient after securing major new funding from the federal government's Australian Solar Institute (ASI).

In its second round of grants, the ASI has funded five projects in which UNSW is lead partner, including a $1.4 million project led by Associate Professor Gavin Conibeer, from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE), for the development of tandem quantum dot solar cells which employ nanotechnology to boost efficiency.

Other projects funded include research into a high-efficiency, solar-concentrator "power tower"; techniques for the low-cost production of solar silicon; advanced methodologies for solar forecasting and grid integration of solar power; and research in the development of third-generation "hot carrier" solar cell technology.

UNSW is also a partner in five more of the 14 projects funded in the round. Associate Professor Gary Rosengarten, of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, is collaborating with the Australian National University, US-based firm Chromasun, the CSIRO and NEP Solar on a roof-mounted, concentrated solar-thermal system for heating, cooling and power.

"We will be looking at a new collector that splits the beam of the Sun," Associate Professor Rosengarten said.

"It's a spectral splitter concept which allows you to decouple the photovoltaic and thermal functions, alleviating the problem of heat in the solar cell."

The ASI also announced its inaugural round of scholarships and fellowships, with three recipients from UNSW.

Jonathon Dore, from SPREE, and Nicholas Boerema, from Mechanical Engineering, were awarded ASI PhD Scholarships, while Dr Xiaojing Hao, also of SPREE, won a Research Fellowship.

SPREE Head of School Dr Richard Corkish said the scholarships were an important gain for the research capacity of the University and the country.

"To capture these great brains and keep our graduates here at UNSW is wonderful," he said.

UNSW Media Office: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au