Thursday, January 15, 2009

Australian Solar Institute Launched Today

A new Australian Solar Institute was launched today at the CSIRO facility at Mayfield, New South Wales.

The institute will fund solar energy research projects and create export opportunities for Australian businesses.

The Energy Innovation Fund, which was set up by the Australian Government to support research and development in clean energy technologies, is providing $100 million for the establishment of the Australian Solar Institute.

The chief of the division of energy technology at the CSIRO, Dr David Brockway, says the research will initially focus on solar thermal technology and photovoltaics (PVs).

"The principal objective is to reduce the cost of energy from solar technologies, in the solar thermal area," he said.

"What we're using is sunlight to produce high temperatures and to generate electricity and in the PVs it's direct electricity production from photovoltaics - the project is designed to make the technologies as cost competitive as we can in the future."

Key objectives of the Australian Solar Institute include:

  • advancing and accelerating innovation in solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies in Australia
  • driving research that will have a major impact on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of solar technologies
  • increasing the competitiveness of solar technologies
  • retaining local and attracting international expertise in solar energy research to Australia
  • establishing Australia as a key player in the development of solar energy technologies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian Solar Institute was officially launched at its Newcastle headquarters on 15 January 2009 by the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy.

A fact sheet [PDF, 55KB] has been developed to provide greater detail on the Australian Solar Institute and its planned operations.

The majority of the Institute's research funding will be allocated through a competitive grants program. A smaller proportion of research funding will be provided to core Institute projects and activities. The Institute's competitive grants program will be designed to encourage any Australian researcher in solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar thermal technologies to apply for funding. This includes researchers from the public and private sectors.

Guidelines for the competitive grants program will be developed over the coming months, with the allocation of these grants occurring through an open, competitive and transparent process.

An Establishment Committee and an Interim Executive Director have been appointed to begin work immediately on bringing the Institute into operation. The Committee and Interim Executive Director are developing the Institute based on consultations with stakeholders and the directions set out in a scoping paper [PDF, 110KB]. The scoping paper, released in late 2008, was prepared by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism following consultation with stakeholders.

A governing board and permanent Executive Director will later be appointed to allow the Institute to commence full operations by July 2009.
Further information on the Institute will be made available later in 2009. An Australian Solar Institute website is currently under development. Once the website is launched, a link will be provided on this webpage.

Any queries or comments relating to the Institute should be forwarded to:

Denis Smedley
Solar and Clean Energy Innovation
Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism
P: 02 6213 6401

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