UNSW School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Silicon to Solar (S2S) Study, the case for domestic solar PV manufacturing in Australia
Michelle Vaqueiro Contreras - UNSW SPREE

Michelle Vaqueiro Contreras, at UNSW SPREE, 21 May 2024

Michelle Vaqueiro Contreras (53Min)


Michelle Vaqueiro Contreras speaks at UNSW SPREE

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The goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 has gained widespread acceptance in Australia and across the globe. To meet this target, a rapid transition to renewable energy is necessary and solar power is poised to emerge as the primary source of electricity generation. Australia has the land and renewable energy potential to ‘soak up’ excess solar energy. This presents a significant competitive edge for the country and can serve as the foundation for exporting environmentally friendly, value-added products to replace our current high-carbon exports in the future.

Australia requires 5-10 GW/annum of solar PV modules for decarbonisation, with potential demand reaching 15-70 GW/annum depending on the scale of development of low-carbon alternatives in hard-to-abate sectors in Australia. The Silicon to Solar (S2S) study presents a techno-economic assessment and policy analysis, focusing on developing a viable, timely and relevant future scenario for solar PV manufacturing in Australia. This study's scope and technology assumptions provide a foundation for bottom-up manufacturing cost estimates and policy recommendations, aiming to foster resilience to supply chain shocks, secure critical access to solar PV modules, and promote sustainable manufacturing practices.

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Brief Bio

Michelle Vaqueiro Contreras is a Senior Research Associate at UNSW Sydney and an Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics Fellow. She earned her master's and PhD degrees in 2018 from the University of Manchester (UK), where she received the Distinguished Achievement Medal as Postgraduate of the Year in the Faculty of Engineering and joined UNSW as a researcher soon after. Her research focuses on silicon defects and their impact on solar cell efficiency, particularly in mitigating impurities contributing to carrier-induced degradation mechanisms such as light-induced degradation (LID) and light and elevated temperature degradation (LeTID). Michelle has been actively involved in supporting the Australian solar PV industry, notably as one of the primary authors of the APVI-led Silicon to Solar (S2S) study. In this role, she conducted comprehensive techno-economic analyses of the solar PV supply chain, working towards developing a credible, viable, and relevant roadmap for Australia’s strategic involvement in the field.