The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is to provide AU$20 million (US$15 million) for its third competitive funding round for PV research and development (R&D).

The agency expects to award grants of between AU$500,000 and AU$5 million for any single project on emerging and established solar cell and modules technologies. The funding round will open from 24 May until 21 June this year.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the research would help reduce the future cost of solar PV.

“Australia has some of the best solar PV researchers in the world, and we want to build on what we’ve already accomplished. This will leverage the impressive gains already made in cost reduction and cell efficiency. And that is just the beginning. We see a future where solar cells might be on every surface,” he said.

Since 2012, ARENA has committed AU$109.3 million in funding to solar R&D projects, fellowships and scholarships – helping  to break 14 solar efficiency world records.

Earlier this month, ARENA launched a new investment plan in which it singled out PV innovation as one of its major priorities.

“By continuing to support innovation in solar PV, we believe that solar power could produce more than 30% of Australia’s electricity within 15 years,” added Frischnecht.

In related news, ARENA’s large-scale solar funding round recently saw the completion of financing for all 12 projects after NSW’s White Rock Solar Farm reached financial close. ARENA is providing almost $90 million of grant funding towards the 12 projects in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia. The funding round was critical in kick-starting Australia’s large-scale solar sector, but the industry is already seeing significant project announcements without requiring grant funding from ARENA.

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