Review of ARENA’s Solar R&D Program Outcomes

ITP Renewables was commissioned by ARENA to review its portfolio of solar research, development and pilot-scale demonstration projects, as well as associated PhD and Post-Doc Fellowships.

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Between 2009 and 2017, a total of $291m in funding was allocated by ASI and ARENA to 314 solar R&D projects. This report collated and synthesised the rationale and outcomes of solar photovoltaic (57% of funding), concentrating solar thermal (33% of funding) and associated solar enabling (10% of funding) R&D projects, in order to communicate activities and achievements; and to articulate the significance and implications of research outcomes. A system of standard metrics was developed by which each project could be documented and sorted, thus allowing overall program coverage and outcomes to be readily assessed. A survey was also conducted of recipients of the Scholarship and Fellowship program.

ARENA funding provided over the past decade has significantly improved Australian solar research outcomes, facilities and capability. This has facilitated a wider range of research projects and assisted in enhancing research-industry collaboration. Funding for PhD scholarships and Post-Doctoral fellowships has been critical in keeping top students and early stage researchers in Australia, which has further enhanced research outcomes. Australian technology is expected to dominate the Silicon PV market over the next decade, with global savings of some US$7.5b per annum possible through efficiency improvements and cost reduction.

Relevant links: Australian solar energy R&D outcomes and achievements in a global context