New technology will halve the costs of solar panels within five years

by ClickGreen staff. Published Wed 21 May 2014 11:08
Lecture on latest breakthrough in solar power
Lecture on latest breakthrough in solar power

A world expert on solar panels will today outline how his pioneering work is set to significantly improve the performance of solar panels whilst simultaneously contributing to their cost being reduced by half. The technology will be commercialised within the next five years.

Professor Stuart Wenham, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia), will present his work at a lecture in central London today where he will officially receive the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize of £300,000. He was chosen from high calibre candidates from across the world to be awarded the IET’s biggest prize, which will enable the continuation of his ground-breaking work.

Professor Wenham’s research has uncovered a mechanism to control hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon – the most costly part of a solar cell. His process allows lower-quality silicon to outperform solar cells made from better quality materials.

Professor Wenham said: “It is a great honour to receive the A F Harvey Engineering Prize and the international recognition that it brings to our breakthrough technology.

“Our research team at UNSW, which has held the world record in silicon solar cell efficiency for many years, has discovered how to control the charge state of hydrogen atoms in silicon and we will be working with the world’s biggest manufacturers to commercialise this low-cost technology. This generous prize will go a long way to helping us take this research to the next stage.”

IET President, Barry Brooks, said: “Professor Wenham has played a pivotal role in the wide scale development of silicon solar cell technology. His pioneering research and internationally recognised leadership in the field will enable commercial exploitation of the technology for the benefit of the global community seeking renewable energy solutions at affordable prices. He is a truly deserving recipient of the IET A F Harvey Engineering Prize and an inspiration to all engineers.”

Professor Wenham’s lecture takes place today at 18:30 at The Royal College of Surgeons in central London.

Professor Wenham is the third recipient of the IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize, which is named after Dr A F Harvey, an IET member. Dr Harvey bequeathed a generous sum of money to the IET for a Trust Fund to be set up in his name after his death to be used for the advancement of research into the fields of medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering.

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