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

8 November 2001

New Boost for Renewable Energy

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced $3 million Commonwealth funding for three new solar energy projects designed to further boost the growing renewable energy industry.

"Each of these three new projects will contribute to Australia's renewable energy market - solar energy is a good, clean alternative to fossil fuels and will contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions," Senator Hill said.

Origin Energy will receive $1 million to support its $7.8 million project to establish a pilot manufacturing plant for cheaper Photovoltaic panels. This pilot project is expected to lead to the commercialisation of new technology developed by Professor Andrew Blakers and his team and the Australian National University.

"The pilot plant will be established in the ACT region in early 2002 to test the manufacturing processes and ensure these new PV systems can be produced to sell at half the price of present systems," Senator Hill said.

The Australian National University and Solahart Industries will receive a $1 million grant towards a $2.3 million project working towards the commercialisation of Australian technology developed around combined heat and power systems.

"This project will implement a significant scale demonstration system on the roofs of three residential halls at the Australian National University in Canberra. The demonstration system will produce 56 kW of electricity and 209 kW of thermal energy for hot water production," Senator Hill said.

"This is a high-profile demonstration site which will help to promote this new technology, to provide valuable information about how it works and to help streamline its transition into commercial production."

Pacific Solar in Sydney will receive a $1 million grant towards a $3.25 million project to make improvements to an existing pilot plant producing cells using the thin film PV technology. This technology is based on research breakthroughs by Professors Martin Green and Stuart Wenham, the Australia Prize winners in 1999, and their team at the University of New South Wale's Photovoltaics Special Research Centre.

"The improvements are expected to reduce the cost of producing polycrystalline thin film PV panels to less than half of current costs," Senator Hill said.

Funding comes from the Australian Greenhouse Office Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, started by the Howard Government in 1998. The program is part of an overall strategy implemented by the Howard Government to achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and to build on Australia's renewable energy industry.

"The Howard Government is committed to reducing Australia's greenhouse emissions and its extensive $1 billion Australian Greenhouse Office program is making a significant impact," Senator Hill said.

"This renewable energy commercialisation program is one of many measures designed to boost a growing market in renewable energy technology."

Thursday, November 8, 2001

Media Contact:
Belinda Huppatz 08 82377920 or 0419 258364

Commonwealth of Australia