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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

14 August 2006

Partnership with the US delivers new solar technology


Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said a new deal worth more than $10 million dollars agreed today under the US-Australia Climate Action Partnership (CAP) would improve the economic viability of solar power throughout the world.

“Today’s agreement between Australian company, Solar Systems, and the US’ Spectrolab Inc, a subsidiary of Boeing, is the result of Australia’s practical approach to international co-operation on climate change and brings together the expertise of these two companies,” Senator Campbell said.

“The result is the world’s first full-scale ultra-high efficiency photovoltaic generator. It’s a major shift in the technology and offers a new pathway for sustainable development.

“The Australian Government is investing $100 million in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), including $25 million to help boost renewable energy initiatives, and is hosting a meeting of the AP6 Renewable Energy Taskforce in Sydney this week to identify additional practical projects like this one.

“Through the CAP initiative, the two companies have taken Spectrolab’s very high efficiency solar cells, which were originally designed for space applications such as powering satellites, and have optimised them for land-based use.”

The solar cells are three times more efficient than typical solar panels. Under the initial deal, Spectrolab will supply 500,000 solar cells to Solar Systems for use in their solar concentrators, creating more than 26 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.

Solar Systems successfully trialed the new technology in April at its Hermannsburg power station in central Australia. It upgraded one of its ‘concentrating dishes’ from a capacity of 24kW to 35kW simply by replacing the existing silicon cells with the new technology.

At a meeting with US senior climate negotiator, Dr Harlan Watson, Senator Campbell heralded the new solar energy technology as an example of the environmental and economic benefits that can come from practical international cooperation on climate change.

“The increased efficiency of the new technology makes solar power more economically viable and will help the world’s major emitters meet rapidly growing energy demands,” he said.

“If the world is to make deep cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions, we need to work together on developing and deploying new low emission technologies. This is one of the reasons why I am leading Australia’s biggest ever renewable energy business mission to China in October.

“New technologies like this are one of the big advantages of international co-operation on climate change. I look forward to making more announcements like this with the United States and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6).

“I congratulate Solar Systems and Boeing Spectrolab for leading the way and look forward to more successful technology developments under Australia’s international partnerships.”

Dr Watson is currently in Australia for the second meeting of the AP6 Renewable Energy taskforce in Sydney. The AP6 brings together Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the United States to meet goals for energy security, national air pollution reduction, and climate change in ways that promote sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

Today’s announcement highlights the importance of the AP6 initiative and new renewable energy technologies.

For photos or more information about the CAP, visit www.greenhouse.gov.au/international

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia