‘Godfather of Australia’s solar industry’ wins prestigious award

Sydney, June 8 (IANS) UNSW professor Martin Green, one of the worlds foremost photovoltaic researchers who is also known as the Godfather of Australia’s solar industry, has won a prestigious Global Energy Prize for his research, development and educational activities in the field of photovoltaics. He beat such big names as Tesla’s Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, and shares the prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, .

A committee of leading scientists chose Green, director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW, from among 44 contenders from 14 countries. The prize money is worth more than $820,000.

The annual Global Energy Prize honours outstanding achievements in research and technology that help address the world’s pressing energy challenges. Professor Green and his team have led the world in silicon cell efficiency since 1983, paving the way for the solar panels we now put on our homes.

Photovoltaics, the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, is now the fastest growing technology for electricity generation. India is a founder member of the International Solar Alliance, a grouping of over 100 countries blessed with generous sunlight, that aims to tap the sun’s energy efficiently

According to Green, the cost of solar PV technology will become the cheapest of all technologies and help radically transform the world’s energy systems. He feels that solar PV will be the cheapest form of electricity across the world by 2030, and that solar will become the single biggest energy source by 2050.

Thanks to Green, Australian solar power researchers have achieved world-beating levels of efficiency, making large solar plants more competitive with other energy sources such as coal.

The team from the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (PV) at UNSW achieved 40.4 per cent “conversion efficiency” by using commercially available solar cells combined with a mirror and filters that reduce wasted energy.

According to the procedure, three solar panels were stacked to capture energy from different wave lengths of sunlight, and then excess light from the stacked panels was directed by a mirror and filters to a fourth PV cell, making use of energy previously discarded.

Among the major international awards bagged by Green are the 1999 Australia Prize, the 2002 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, the 2007 SolarWorld Einstein Award and the 2016 Ian Wark Medal from the Australian Academy of Science.

In 2013, he was elected fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his extensive and distinguished contributions to photovoltaic science and technology .

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