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

Press conference with senior United States Climate Change Negotiator,
Dr Harlan Watson, at Parliament House, Canberra
Monday 14 August 2006

US-Australia climate action partnership, announce solar technology agreement

Senator Campbell:
Well thank you everybody, and firstly can I welcome Dr Harlan Watson, senior climate change negotiator for the United States Government.

We're here today to announce something that is potentially quite transformational. It is an indication of the prospects that we have, working together, primarily between the United States of America and Australia, on climate action. It also leads us to be very hopeful going into the first major meeting of the renewables taskforce under the Asia-Pacific Clean Development and Climate Partnership tomorrow in Sydney, which Dr Watson will be attending on behalf of the United States, but we'll also see all members of the partnership represented and I remind you that China, South Korea, Japan, India, the US and Australia, where those six countries that make up roughly 50 per cent of the world's population and roughly half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - will come together to forge new collaboration, new research and development and new deployment efforts on a list of already around 40 projects. Not all of which will get the go ahead, one would expect, but potentially dozens of projects similar the one we announced today.

We're here ultimately to welcome the collaboration between solar systems, represented here by Dave Holland, and Boeing Spectrolab, represented by Roderick Drury from Boeing Australia, in a multi- million dollar collaboration to develop a world leading solar technology. And the technology, put simply, is partly developed by Solar Systems in Australia, literally developed for an outback application under the Australian Government's renewable remote power generation programme and the technology there was to take what most Australian householders would remember as the typical flat photovoltaic cell and turn it into a parabolic style shape - if I can remember my high school physics - and concentrate that solar energy similar to what would see on a satellite dish into a highly concentrated solar beam to create photo voltaic.

Boeing Spectrolab has brought to the collaboration a photovoltaic panel which massively improve efficiency to receive the concentrated efficiency. Of course, Boeing Spectrolab developed this for use in outer space in satellites primarily where, of course, you have to have significant efficiency in capturing the solar energy and converting it to power for uses there. So we're using technology developed for space, technology developed in Australia for powering the outback, bringing them together to create, what we hope, what we expect will be a breakthrough in the efficiency of developing power from solar energy. And as I've said: it is an example of what we expect, those of us that have spent much the last two years working to build the Asia-Pacific Partnership to bring the world the greater collaboration in research and development, great collaboration in development, bringing investment dollars together from the public sector, and most importantly the private sector, seeing those technologies deployed throughout the partnership countries, but then rapidly throughout the rest of the globe. That is what the partnership is all about.

It's my great pleasure to welcome back to Canberra, for the umpteenth time, Dr Harlan Watson who works very closely with us through a range of forums, through the United Nations Framework convention, through the G8, through the Partnership, through a range of action that our two Governments are dedicated to taking together, bilaterally and plurilateral through the AP6 and multilaterally through the UN processes, great to have him on Australian soil again Harlan, and please I invite you to say a few words.

Dr Watson:
OK, I'll just take a few moments, Minister and thank you very much for the kind welcome, and I also want to acknowledge the importance of this addition to our climate action partnership. This is a perfect example, I think, of the practical steps our two countries have taken to develop and deploy new energy, new and improved energy. Of course this is a great improvement over existing technologies, we think it will have great application, not only here in Australia but certainly throughout our AP6 partners, and ultimately throughout the world. This is a great example of bringing forward public & private partnerships, which is what CAP what AP6 is all about. So I congratulate you, I congratulate the companies on this effort and also look forward to carrying this message into the AP6 meeting tomorrow to show what can be done. This is a most important project.

Senator Campbell:
We'll now sign a recognition of the collaboration. I'll do the right thing by the visitor and let you sign first. I'll just call on Dave Holland and Rodrick Drury to come forward and sign up. I'm sure we very happy to take any questions.

Commonwealth of Australia