The man dubbed “The father of photovoltaics”, Prof Martin Green of UNSW, has become the first Australian to win the annual Global Energy Prize presented by the President of the Russian Federation.
Prof Green is Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW. He work has been cited for having “revolutionised the efficiency and costs of solar photovoltaics, making this now the lowest cost option for bulk electricity supply”.
The shortlist for the 2018 prize was made up of 44 contenders from 14 countries, and included high-profile figures such as Elon Musk and battery technology guru Khalil Amine.
Prof Green will share the RUB 39 million ($820,000) prize with Russian scientist Sergey Alekseenko, who was awarded for his work in thermal power engineering.
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.
Among his many breakthroughs, he invented the PERC solar cell, which accounted for more than 24% of the world’s silicon cell manufacturing capacity at the end of 2017. Sales of systems containing this solar cell exceeded US$10 billion in 2017 and are predicted to exceed US$1 trillion by 2040.
The Global Energy Prize was established in Russia in 2003 through the Global Energy Association, with the support of leading Russian Energy companies Gazprom, FGCUES, and Surgutneftegas. The winners are chosen each year by a committee of 20 leading scientists from 13 countries.