The world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and the Victorian university will be developing solar cells that they say will double the efficiency of current solar cells, yet be half the cost.
Both Suntech and Swinburne will contribute AUD $3 million each to the project with further funds being sought from the Victorian government. Professor Min Gu and Suntech CEO Dr Shi Zhengrong believe the project will see the development and manufacture of the revolutionary nanoplasmonic solar cells within five years.
Nanoplasmonic solar cell technology allows for the efficient collection of solar energy in a wider colour spectrum range than cells currently being developed in other laboratories.
The project will be located at Swinburne’s new Advanced Technology Centre, a $130 million dollar development due to be completed by early 2011. The Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) will provide state-of-the-art research and teaching spaces and attract world class researchers, both nationally and internationally.
The ATC aims to be one of the first 5 star green buildings in an Australian university and will include many sustainable features such as energy-efficient lighting, escalators and air conditioning and the use of recycled water throughout the building.
According to Swinburne Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young, the collaboration will result in major research and development in solar energy locally, leading not only to significant industrial benefits for the state of Victoria, but may even be a precursor to Suntech manufacturing solar panels in Australia. The presence of Suntech in Australia is a prospect that would no doubt be welcomed after BP closed its Sydney Olympic Park solar panel plant at the end of last month.