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Australia has a golden opportunity to expand solar energy manufacturing | [GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA]

The Australian PV Institute (APVI) at UNSW has released a new white paper highlighting the enormous investment opportunities for Australia to expand its role in the solar manufacturing supply chain, and to achieve a strong position of local production and materials refining, among other growth pathways.

Writing in the Guardian, Peter Hannam speaks with co-author and ACAP's in-coming director, Renate Egan, about the global energy picture and Australia's role in the transition to net zero:

"Renate Egan, the APVI secretary and head of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, said China would remain an important supplier of panels to Australia but it was important to diversify supply, including by using local firms.

“You can liken it to Europe’s reliance on gas from Russia,” Egan said, referring to shortages and soaring gas prices after Moscow imposed export curbs in retaliation to sanctions for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Egan said Australian technology was used in 90% of PV panels made today, underscoring the country’s scientific pedigree in the field. The country wouldn’t need to make all of the components in modules but could specialise.

Local firms could make glass, aluminium frames, polymers or the electronics such as inverters, while leaving production of polysilicon – a key raw material – to others.

“I think it’s at the top end of silicon refining and then module assembly,” Egan said. “We need to be making some smart decisions and deploying at scale.”

Inquires from industry are always welcomed.


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