The UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering is one of 10 Schools in Australia’s largest Faculty of Engineering.
For over two decades The University of New South Wales has been a world leader in research and commercialisation of high performance silicon solar cells. The UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering was established in order enable a greater number of students to specialise in Photovoltaics (the science and the engineering practice of turning sunshine directly into electricity by using solar cells). With energy becoming an increasingly important world-wide issue, the breadth of our teaching in Photovoltaic Engineering was increased to include Renewable Energy Engineering.
Undergraduate degrees include the Bachelor of Engineering in Photovoltaic and Solar Energy Engineering; and, the Bachelor of Engineering in Renewable Energy Engineering. It is also possible to study in a combined degree program.
On the postgraduate level, we currently have 60 PhD and Masters Degree candidates and many of these will go on to work world-wide in the explosively growing Photovotaics or Renewable Energy industries. At last count, 35 of our higher degree graduates had CEO, CTO or other senior management positions in some of the world's largest photovoltaics companies.
It is an exciting time for engineers who choose to look at a world needing increasing amounts of energy and seeing the solution being in utilising the renewable resources available to everyone: sunshine, wind, rain, tides and biomass to name a few.
World-wide there is a real need for the specialties that we teach. If you are interested in these specialties we invite you to consider studying with us.
Dr Richard Corkish, Head of School
Phone: +61 2 9385 4068
A Brief History of the ARC Photovoltaics
Centre of Excellence
The Centre had its origins in a Solar Photovoltaic Group that fabricated its first cell in 1975 in the Integrated Circuits Laboratory within the School of Electrical Engineering. Promising results obtained during 1976 with a novel MIS (metal-insulator-semiconductor) solar cell stimulated the establishment of a dedicated Solar Photovoltaic Laboratory in 1977 in Room 128 of the Electrical Engineering building.
This led to a period of rapid progress where solar cells with very high output voltages and rapidly increasing energy conversion efficiencies were demonstrated. By 1980, the Laboratory had outgrown the space available in Room 128 and moved to its present location on the ground floor of the Electrical Engineering building.. During the period from 1983 to 1990, cells fabricated within the Laboratory became the first silicon cells to exceed the 18%, 19%, 20% and 24% energy conversion efficiency barriers and are now at 25%.
In 1990, the Laboratory combined with the activities in the Power Department in the Electrical Engineering School to form the Special Research Centre for Photovoltaic Devices and Systems with support from the Australian Research Council and from Pacific Power. Prior to completion of this Centre’s program at the end of 1999, the ARC Key Centre for Photovoltaic Engineering was formed with responsibility for developing the world’s first undergraduate photovoltaic degree program. This was followed in 2000 by the start of the ARC Special Research Centre for Third Generation Photovoltaics. In 2003, these two Centres merged with related research programs to become the ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics.
The ARC Centre’s broad aims are to accelerate the development of photovoltaics as a large-scale, sustainable energy source and to maximise Australian involvement with this technology.
* indicates: World first
- 25.0% Si cell*
- CSG completes German factory for thin-film Si production; 22.7% cell on n-type Si (22 cm2)*
- CSG Solar announces the impending manufacture of Pacific Solar's technology; Martin Green receives World Technology Award for Energy (San Francisco)
- 10% Silicon Photoluminescence efficiency; First graduates of the world's first undergraduate
Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering program*; Up-conversion efficiency of 1%*; Silicon photoluminescence efficiency above 10% demonstrated*; BP Solar opens 30 MW stage for buried contact cells at Tres Cantos, Spain
- Centre demonstrates Silicon quantum well
thickness dependent luminescence; Record efficiency of photoluminescence
from bulk Silicon; Pacific Solar reports 8.2% crystalline Si thin-film pilot-line module; Center of Excellence in Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics awarded; Buried contact cell sales under license to UNSW exceed $300 million; Martin Green awarded Alternative Nobel Prize for solar work (Stockholm)
- Solar technology produces first 1% efficient Si light emitting diode*
- World's fist undergraduate program in Photovoltaic Engineering starts*; Sydney 2000 Olympic Village powered by BP Solar Saturn cells
- 24.7% Si cell*; 24.5% cell on Czochralski-grown substrates*; Aurora 101 solar car wind World Solar Challenge with UNSW cells; Australia Prize to Martin Green and Stuart Wenham for solar work
- Pacific Solar announces pilot-line start-up (thin-film cells); BP Announced Amoco merger eventually leading to construction of facility in Tres Cantos, Spain); 19.8% "honeycomb texture" multi-crystalline Si cell*; 24.5% Si cell*
- 18.2% planar multi-crystalline cell; 22.7% efficient solar module*
- 22.7% efficient solar module*; 23.7% efficient large area cell (22cm²)*; "Honda Dream" solar car wins World Solar Challenge with UNSW manufactured cells
- "Spin-off" Pacific Solar Commences; Buried contact cell most successfully commercialised in last 15 years; 17.6% multi-junction solar cell (20 Microns active thickness); IEEE J.J.Ebers Award to Martin Green for solar work (Washington); 21.5% efficient thin silicon (47µm) cell*
- 720 mV silicon cell*; 24.0% Si cell* 15.2% multi-junction solar cell (20 microns active thickness);
- 1MW Union Fenosa system in Spain using licensed technology
- 20.8% solar module* (world's first flat-plate module above 20% efficiency);
- 21.6% efficient large area cell (46cm2)*; 550 kW system at Toledo, Spain using licensed technology (world's most efficient large PV system)
- 717mV Si cell*;
- 19.9% solar module*;
- First large system using licensed UNSW technology (24 kW system using BP Solar modules in Berne, Switzerland); CSIRO Medal to Stuart Wenham and Martin Green for buried contact work
- 600mV, 10% efficient thin-film Si cell (low T deposition);
- BP Solar BP Solar releases "Saturn" module under licence (highest efficiency commercial module at 14.3%)
- 23% efficient silicon cell*
- 25% Si concentrator cell
- Spirit of Biel solar car wins World Solar
Challenge (17% array fabricated by licensee, Telefunken); IEEE William R. Cherry Award to Martin Green for solar work (Orlando)
- 20.4% Sandia concentrator module (using UNSW Cells)*; (world's first 20% efficient module)*
- 18% efficient Si module*;
- 17% efficient polycrystalline cell*
- World's first 20% efficient Si cell*
- 18% efficient silicon cell*
- 690mV* Si cell
- 678mV* Si Cell; 15% efficient MINP cell
- First Si cell to reach 650mV*
- First "15% active area" MIS cell*
- First MIS cell to reach 600mV*
- Group's first cell (Schottky grating)