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ASU, Australian Solar Institute collaborate on projects to advance solar energy solutions

Arizona sunset
February 21, 2013

As part of a global cause to bolster solar power technologies, Arizona State University researchers are taking part in three new solar energy projects funded by the Australian and U.S. governments. The investment for these projects includes $68 million for two, eight-year research programs and $15.5 million for 11 collaborative projects.

This collaboration is part of the United States Solar Energy Collaboration, which includes the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative that is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

“ASU is delighted to join Australian and U.S. researchers on the development of solar energy technologies and projects to spur innovation and identify solutions to global energy challenges,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “This collaborative initiative will accelerate renewable energy research and help reduce solar electricity costs by increasing the speed of development of related technologies.”

ASU is involved in both of the eight-year, national research programs and one of the research collaborations. The three projects with ASU involvement are:

• The U.S. Australia Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (USAIAP), which will work to develop next-generation photovoltaic technologies and help to provide a pipeline of opportunities for performance increases and cost reductions.

Partners include Australia National University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of Queensland, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Suntech R&D Australia, BT Imaging, BlueScope Steel, Trina Solar. U.S. involvement includes the National Science Foundation’s Department of Energy Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Molecular Foundry, Arizona State University, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California.

USAIAP is funded at a level of $33 million. ASU’s lead on the project is professor Christiana Honsberg.

• The Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), an $87-million project geared towards transforming Australia into a global leader in concentrating solar power technologies. Australian partners in this project include CSIRO, the Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of South Australia, Queensland University of Technology and Flinders University. U.S. partners are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University. ASU’s lead on this project is professor Ellen Stechel.

• The Micro Urban Solar Integrated Concentrators (MUSIC) project, one of 11 collaborative projects recently announced by he United States Solar Energy Collaboration. This project is being led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

The MUSIC project will develop thin, lightweight and self-contained solar concentrating modules that would deliver up to 400 degrees Celsius thermal energy and electricity from building roofs. When coupled with development of storage and energy/grid management techniques, the technology could potentially change the way solar energy is utilized in cities.

Partners collaborating on the MUSIC project along with ASU and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology are: the Australia National University, the University of New South Wales, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Rheem, Fielders, the University of California, Merced, and the University of Tulsa. ASU’s lead in this project is professor Liping Wang.

“In one of the sunniest places on the planet, we are excited about leveraging our location in Arizona and working with esteemed colleagues in Australia, to collaboratively further advance solar research and technologies,” said Ellen Stechel, deputy director of LightWorks and professor of practice in chemistry at ASU. The LightWorks initiative pulls light-inspired research at ASU under one strategic framework, in a transdisciplinary effort to leverage ASU's unique strengths, particularly in renewable energy fields including solar fuels, advanced biofuels, and next-generation photovoltaics.