Australian Government Signs New Memorandum of Understanding with Germany to Strengthen Research & Development in Solar Technologies

Canberra, Australia ( March 16, 2011

Australian Government Signs New Memorandum of Understanding with Germany to Strengthen Research & Development in Solar Technologies

Australian Government Signs New Memorandum of Understanding with Germany to Strengthen Research & Development in Solar Technologies

The Australian Government is further strengthening its support for research and development into solar technologies by increasing its international collaboration through a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Germany.

Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP said that Australia’s solar energy resources are second to none with the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.

“Solar power has the potential to significantly contribute to Australia’s baseload energy mix,” Minister Ferguson said.

“But more work needs to be done to achieve widespread, cost-effective deployment of this technology on a commercial scale.

“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.

“The Australian Government is investing heavily in achieving these goals through our $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative and working with partners like Germany and the United States is a way of further capitalising on this investment.”

In Germany today the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr signed the MoU between the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) and the Deutches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) – Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space.

Senator Carr emphasised the importance of research and innovation in delivering results that will benefit Australia and the international community, saying it will benefit the environment and energy security.

“The Australian Government is a strong supporter of solar energy research and development, with $150 million committed to support the Australian Solar Institute,” Senator Carr said.

“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.”

Today’s agreement builds on the MoU that the ASI already has in place with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, which focuses on solar photovoltaic technologies.

The MoU aims to foster cooperation in a number of areas, including:

  • collaboration on CSP development and deployment, including sharing views on future opportunities and challenges for CSP in a global context so as to help focus R&D on known research gaps and on overcoming barriers;
  • provision of peer review expertise;
  • joint R&D projects between DLR and Australian research bodies supported by the ASI; and
  • support for solar skills development and education in Australia and Germany, for example through the provision of bilateral educational scholarships and exchange of research personnel.

The ASI and DLR have already agreed a number of priority activities for immediate commencement, including high temperature CSP modelling and high temperature receiver performance and analysis.

The CSIRO will initially lead the scoping of Australia’s involvement in these areas, with the ASI seeking to broaden Australia’s involvement in the near future.  The ASI will fund activities under the MoU from its existing international engagement budget. ASI funding decisions are taken by the ASI Board and are informed by a robust and independent merit-based assessment process.

The Australian Solar Institute is part of the Government’s $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative.

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