IN BRIEF: University of NSW solar energy researcher Scientia Professor Martin Green has become the first Australian to win the prestigious Global Energy Prize for his work on photovoltaics.
The prize, which amounts to more than $820,000, is awarded for outstanding achievements in research and technology addressing the world’s pressing energy challenges.
Professor Green, director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW, was honoured for having “revolutionised the efficiency and costs of solar photovoltaics, making this now the lowest cost option for bulk electricity supply”.
He was selected from 44 contenders from 14 countries by a committee of leading scientists and shares the $820,000 prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, an expert in thermal power engineering.
The 10 finalists this year included businessman and engineer Elon Musk.
Professor Green is a world-leading specialist in both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar cells, and the research group he founded in UNSW Engineering is the largest and best-known university-based photovoltaic research group in the world. The enormous reductions in costs in photovoltaic solar systems in recent years is directly related to his scientific efforts, largely through the work of his students in establishing manufacturing centres in Asia.
“The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news,” Professor Green said.
“We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to keep our international lead, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low carbon source of electricity.
“Given the quality of the candidates on the shortlist, receiving this prize is a great honour, and will spur on our efforts.”
The Global Energy Prize was established in Russia in 2003 through the Global Energy Association.
Professor Green will attend a presentation in Russia in October to receive the prize.