From silicon to solar: Economic Opportunities

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced today a grant of $541,640 to the Australian PV Institute (APVI) to investigate opportunities for the solar PV supply chain in Australia.

The study’ Silicon to Solar,’ worth $ 1.12 million, will examine options for domestic manufacturing and supply chains and policy options to achieve these goals.

With solar contributing a growing portion of Australia’s energy mix, bottlenecks and constraints in the global PV supply chain present a strategic risk for Australia.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan, Australia will require 120 GW of installed solar capacity by 2020. This is a fourfold increase over the current total. ARENA’s white paper on ultra-low-cost solar paints a picture of more than 1000 GW installed capacity to meet the vision of a renewable energy superpower.

To achieve this quantum leap in solar power, it is essential to have a robust and reliable supply chain.

Australia can play a more significant role in solar panel manufacturing. It is a major producer of raw materials and a center of expertise.

ACAP, the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, has partnered with this study. ACAP brings a wealth of expertise and experience in solar PV research. 5B, AGL Aspiradac Energus Siemens SunDrive Tindo Solar, and AGL are also industry partners in the study.

ARENA’s CEO Darren Miller stated that the study would provide a way forward for a more secure solar supply chain as the industry grows dramatically.

Over 80% of all solar cells are based on the PERC cell. It was invented in Australia. Local research has led the way in innovation since its invention. “The Silicon to Solar Study will help us to find new ways to increase our role in production.”

In the past, ARENA supported ACAP’s research with $129 million over the last ten years. This shows a solid commitment to Australia’s leading research in this sector.

ARENA also released a whitepaper highlighting how ultra-low-cost solar could unlock Australia’s superpower in renewable energy. The paper’s main objectives are to raise solar PV to Australia’s top national priorities by highlighting the benefits of highly low-cost solar and identifying, communicating, and highlighting critical barriers to ultra-low-cost solar.

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