Australia and Germany to advance solar technologies

Collaboration deal will pool both countries' resources to accelerate the pace of technology development and reduce costs

Solar energy capture technologies could become significantly cheaper and more available in coming years, thanks to a collaboration agreement signed this week between Australia and Germany.

According to the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, the fact Australia had the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world meant solar power had the potential to significantly contribute to Australia’s energy supply.

However, the high costs of the technology remained a strain on availability and viability for commercial-scale deployments.

“Like Australia, Germany is seeking to move to lower its emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources, and it makes sense to pool our resources and by doing so accelerate the pace of technology development and reduce costs,” he said in a statement.

The collaborative agreement will include focussing research and development on known research gaps and on overcoming barriers, providing peer review expertise and joint research and development projects between Germany's national research centre for aeronautics and space (DLR) and the Australian Solar Institute with related bodies.

The agreement will also provide support for solar skills development and education in Australia and Germany, through bilateral educational scholarships and exchange of research personnel.

“This latest initiative will bring together Australia’s best solar energy researchers with those in Germany, to accelerate the technology breakthroughs required to allow solar energy to become a sustainable energy source in the future in Australia, Germany and around the world,” Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, said in a statement.

The announcement of a deal between Germany and Australia follows the November announcement of a similar agreement between Australia and the USaimed at driving down the cost of solar technology. Signed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the agreement involved the Australian Government committing up to $50 million in funding.

Early this year a solar racer designed and built in NSW was launched in an attempt to break a world speed record. Powered by the sun using silicon solar cells, the University of NSW Sunswift IV racing car, known as IVy, hoped to hit a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour during an official Guinness World Book of Records time trial.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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