The School's two senior researchers, Professor Martin Green and Professor Stuart Wenham were awarded Australia's highest scientific award: the 1999 Australia Prize for their world renowned achievements in Photovoltaics. This is the first time that this international award has been won by an all Australian team. Along with the School's world records in high efficiency silicon solar cells, the School's world-wide commercial successes in developing and licensing intellectual property was acknowledged. This award validates the Federal Government's views for photovoltaics in Australia's and the world's future.
As well as having Professors Green and Wenham the School boasts an international selection of post doctorate researchers. China, Germany, Switzerland and the United States are all well represented.
For nearly two decades the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering has held Silicon Solar Cell High Efficiency world records. The School publishes approximately 60 academic papers each year (most of which are available for download from the School's Home Page) covering the full spectrum of photovoltaic research: from quantum wires in device physics to grid-interactive photovoltaic systems on houses. Staff are also actively involved in advising government and companies on policy and economic issues.
Approximately sixtiy doctoral & masters candidates are also supervised by the team.
Unique to UNSW is the Bachelor of Engineering in Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Degree. Undergraduates are now trained specifically in technology, from solar cell laboratory procedure to PV systems design, that allows them to immediately work in an industry that is growing by 38% per annum.
In addition to this is the Bachelor of Engineering in Renewable Energy, a degree program added in 2003, focusing on all aspects of Renewable Energy.
The UNSW Buried Contact Solar Cell technology (also called "Laser Grooved Technology") has been licensed commercially to the majority of large solar cell manufactures in the world. This high efficiency commercial technology is becoming the dominant technology in Europe where it has been released by one of the Centre's licensees, BP Solar, under the "Saturn Technology". This high efficiency commercial technology has excellent manufacturing economics and its spectral, temperature and cloudy condition response make this an ideal technology.