Originally published on RenewEconomy
by Sophie Vorrath
A new facility to pilot the development of Australian-grown, ARENA-backed technology aimed at creating more efficient and affordable solar panels has been launched in Queensland.
Brisbane Materials, whose landmark technology produced anti-reflection and other coatings for solar panels which significantly improves efficiency and lowers cost, announced the opening of its new product development and manufacturing plant in Darra, on Tuesday.
Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of the Australia Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will cut the ribbon at the new plant, one of the many projects ARENA has invested in to help drive and commercialise efficient and affordable renewable energy solutions.
Brisbane Materials’ patented technology was invented and developed at the University of Queensland by Dr Michael Harvey and Professor Paul Meredith. It enables the creation of a nano-porous silicon dioxide (SiO2) and other metal oxide films from a liquid precursor at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.
When applied to solar photovoltaic panels, these films form an anti- reflective coating which provides a significant efficiency improvement, and lowers the cost of solar panels.
After forming a strategic partnership with EV Group in 2012, Brisbane Materials announced the close of a $5 million Series A funding round, led by the ARENA-backed Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund managed by Southern Cross Venture Partners, and including US- based New Venture Partners. In 2012, the company also won a $1.3 million grant from the Australia Solar Institute, which is now part of ARENA
As well as developing and promoting its AR coatings business for solar applications, the company has also developed new products and technology for next generation lighting, including LEDs, which it will be launching in February 2014 at the Strategies in Light Conference in Santa Clara, California.
“Brisbane Materials is now in the exciting position of being able to scale up operations at our new Queensland headquarters in support of expanding sales and marketing efforts around the world,” the company’s CEO Gary Wiseman said.
Larry Marshall, the managing director of Southern Cross Venture Partners – a member of the Australian government’s $200 million, 13-year Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund, along with Softbank China Venture – said the fund was excited to invest in a company that would “bring high tech jobs to Queensland, and an innovative Australian technology to a global customer base.”