Australian-German partnership concentrates solar power capability

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr signs R&D MoU with leading European research institute in Germany

The potential of solar power as a baseload energy source received a boost today when the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) announced a research and development partnership with leading European solar research body, Deutches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) to develop concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies.

ASI Executive Director Mark Twidell said, “The partnership provides Australian researchers with the opportunity to investigate cost and efficiency improvements in CSP alongside the other leaders in the field, the DLR institute.”


“By capitalising on the knowledge leadership in both Germany and Australia in solar research, we anticipate the joint R&D will produce exciting results in terms of increased efficiency and lowered costs to produce energy from the sun. We look forward to this technology progressing to commercialisation over time,” Mr Twidell added.


The agreement fosters cooperation in solar research and development between Australian and German researchers, including:

• collaboration on CSP development focused on research gaps necessary to overcome barriers to uptake such as cost and efficiency

• provision of peer review expertise

• joint R&D projects between DLR and Australian research bodies supported by ASI, and

• support for solar skills development and education in Australia and Germany.


The ASI and DLR have already agreed a number of priority activities for immediate commencement, including high temperature CSP modelling and high temperature receiver performance and analysis. Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will initially lead the scoping of Australia’s involvement in these areas, with the ASI seeking to broaden Australia’s involvement in the near future.


“Australia’s commitment to a climate-friendly energy supply, its excellent research infrastructure and, of course, its high levels of solar radiation are an excellent basis for us to work together on reducing the cost of solar power using technology developed by DLR,” said Prof. Ulrich Wagner who is looking forward to the Cooperation. The DLR has been investigating more than 30 years as one of the largest research teams worldwide in the field of concentrating solar power technology.”


The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Berlin, Germany on March 16th on behalf of the ASI by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr and on behalf of DLR by Prof. Dr-Ing. Ulrich Wagner of the DLR Management Board.


Mr Twidell added, “The ASI is very grateful to the support provided by the Australian Embassy and Austrade in Germany to proactively assist the development of this partnership. Such strategic alliances assist to strengthen the Australian solar sector.”


The ASI has already developed a strong partnership with the German solar industry through a MoU with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, which focuses on solar photovoltaic technologies, and

Australia’s role in the International Energy Agency’s Solar PACES solar thermal program. Additionally, the ASI is playing a lead role in development of the US-Australia Solar Research Collaboration announced in late 2010.


About concentrating solar power (CSP)
Concentrated solar power (CSP) technology uses mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat to drive a steam turbine connected to an electrical power generator.

About the Australian Solar Institute (ASI)

The ASI is a $150 million commitment by the Australian Government to support solar thermal and solar photovoltaic research and development, and forms part of the $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative. This commitment will foster greater collaboration between solar researchers in universities, research institutions and industry and help forge strong links with peak overseas solar research organisations.

The ASI will source funding for activities under the MoU from its existing funds budgeted for international engagement activity. ASI funding decisions are taken by the ASI Board and are informed by a robust and independent merit-based assessment process.


More information about the ASI is available at

About the Deutches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

DLR is Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, transportation and energy is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. As Germany’s Space Agency, the German federal government has given DLR responsibility for the forward planning and implementation of the German space programme as well as international representation of Germany’s interests. Key industries, including materials technology, medicine and software engineering, all profit from innovations made by DLR in the fields of aeronautics and space.

More information about the DLR is available at