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You might think solar panels have been perfected, but we can still make them even better and cheaper



Writing in the Conversation, ACAP's UNSW node lead, Renate Egan, explains the further potential of solar power, and Australia's role to play in continuing to expand the global renewable energy picture:


"Australia is likely to play a key role in global progress. For decades, we’ve been at the forefront of solar technology development and deployment. We’ve held the performance record for silicon solar cells for 30 of the last 40 years. We now have more solar deployed per capita than any other OECD country, meeting close to 15% of our electricity needs. More than 80% of the world’s new solar panels rely on the PERC cell, a technology developed in Australia.


Ultra-cheap electricity unlocks huge possibilities, from turning water into green hydrogen to serve as energy storage or to use in industrial processes, through to electrifying transport, energy systems and everything else we use fossil fuels for.


Last year, Australia’s renewable energy agency laid out its vision for ultra low-cost solar. The goal is ambitious but achievable. By 2030, the agency wants commercial solar cells to hit 30% efficiency, up from 22% today. It wants large scale full system costs (panels, inverters and transmission) to fall by 50% to 30 cents per watt.


It will take intensive research. More than 250 Australian researchers are working towards these goals at the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics."


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Read more about ACAP's R&D role in helping Australia reach its full solar power potential.