Government grants for solar research

Researchers specializing in solar power have been awarded almost A$1.3 million ($1.3 million) by the Australian Federal Government to develop technologies to make the energy source more efficient and cost effective.

The grants are part of the government’s Skills Development Program, resources minister Martin Ferguson said in an e-mailed release today.

“From techniques to improve the efficiency of solar cells made from low-cost and readily available organic materials, to investigating ways to optimize hybrid solar-diesel systems in remote areas using smart grids, the Skills Development Program is helping to drive Australian solar innovation,” Ferguson said in the statement.

Enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 4 million average Australian households was generated by renewable sources in the last 12 months (ending in September) according to a report by the Clean Energy Council, an industry association.

Hydro electricity accounts for about two-thirds of Australia’s energy from renewables, followed by wind, bioenergy and solar power from photovoltaic sources, the council says.

Australia is in the midst of efforts to cut carbon emissions that the government says are the highest per capita in the developed world.

Coal generated 77 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2009 and 2010, while natural gas accounted for about 14 percent, according to data from the Energy Supply Association of Australia.

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