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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

10 August 2001

PLUG INTO THE SUN


A new innovative solar photovoltaic system which converts sunlight into electricity without noise or pollution is among Sydney-based projects to be awarded Federal Government funding under its $55 million renewable energy commercialisation program.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced a grant of $500,000 to Pacific Solar to help it commercialise its Plug and Power™ photovoltaic system which has already attracted extensive interest from buyers in Europe and the USA.

"I commend Pacific Solar for their innovative approach to the development and commercialisation of this leading edge photovoltaic technology," Senator Hill said.

"Each solar panel in this new design has its own inverter, meaning the system can operate with a single panel or several panels depending on the energy requirements of the user.

"The system's modular structure makes it much simpler to install and very cost effective.

"The Plug and PowerTM modular system is expected to compete strongly in the rooftop photovoltaic markets in Australia and overseas, with export sales of the product expected to reach over $8 million within three years".

In addition, the ElectroComms and Energy Utilities Qualifications Standards Body of Australia (EEQSBA) has been awarded $191,000 to develop and incorporate renewable energy materials into the national curriculum for electricians studying at TAFE.

"TAFE students undertaking trade qualifications such as electrical studies or those wishing to upgrade their qualifications, will now have greater access to the most comprehensive package of training materials on renewable energy ever offered in Australia," Senator Hill said.

"The training package means that TAFE students around the nation will be able to choose to specialise in renewable energy, which will provide a major boost to the industry.

The renewable energy industry has also received a significant boost through the introduction of the Renewable Energy Electricity Act 2000. This is providing an additional 9500 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity by 2010, enough to power Sydney's residential electricity needs, and is expected to drive new investment in excess of $2 billion.

"Australian home owners who install photovoltaic systems can earn renewable energy certificates under this legislation," Senator Hill added.

"Renewable energy is a key component of the Commonwealth's climate change policy and we have committed $380 million over 5 years to increase the uptake of renewable energy systems and to strengthen the capacity of Australia's renewable energy industry".

The projects have been funded under round five of the Commonwealth's Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP). The $55.6 million RECP grants program fosters the growth of Australia's renewable energy industry. So far, 46 projects have been offered funding under the program.

Friday, 10 August 2001

Contact: Megan Bonny (Senator Hill's Office) 0404 823 018

Commonwealth of Australia