The University of New South Wales’ Professor Stuart Wenham has been awarded the prestigious Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize for his work in solar technology.
The $A560,000 prize was awarded for the Professor’s work in boosting the efficiency of low-quality silicon. The Professor and his team used hydrogen atoms to address defects in silicon cells, meaning lower quality silicon can achieve the same performance as high quality materials.
The technology can significantly boost the efficiencies of solar cells from a current industry standard of 17-19% to 23%.
“Professor Wenham has played a pivotal role in the wide scale development of silicon solar cell technology,” said IET President, Barry Brooks. “His pioneering research and internationally recognised leadership in the field have enabled commercial exploitation of the technology for the benefit of the global community seeking renewable energy solutions at affordable prices.”
“Our UNSW team is now working with the world’s biggest solar manufacturers through collaborative agreements with NewSouth Innovations to commercialise this low-cost technology,” said Professor Wenham.
“It is a great honour to receive the A F Harvey Engineering Prize and the international recognition that it brings to this important innovation. The prize money will go a long way to helping us take the research to the next stage.”
The initial research was made possible through funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); an agency that has been under a great deal of pressure from the Coalition Government’s renewables razor gang.
In related news, ARENA yesterday opened the first round of a research and development program dedicated to advancing renewable energy knowledge and expertise in Australia. This round will provide up to $20 million to promote excellence in solar research.