Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Society Fellow, Andrew Blakers, amongst winners of the 2023 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Professor Andrew BlakersAt a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 12 October 2023, His Majesty King Charles III presented the 2022 and 2023 Queen Elizabeth Prizes for Engineering. These prizes, inaugurated in 2011, recognise engineers responsible for groundbreaking innovations that have been of global benefit to humanity.

The 2023 QE Prize for Engineering was awarded to an Australian-led team from UNSW comprising Scientia Professor Martin Green (left), Professor Andrew Blakers (third from the right), a RSNSW Fellow, Dr Aihua Wang (second from the right), and Dr Jianhua Zhao (immediately to the right of King Charles) for the invention and development of Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar photovoltaic technology. 

Queen Elizabeth Prize 2023 Award Ceremony

The citation notes that “This technology has greatly improved the energy conversion efficiency of commercially dominant silicon cells by improving the quality of both the top and the rear surface of standard silicon solar cells. PERC introduced an additional layer on the back surface that helped prevent recombination and, further, reflected unused photons back into the silicon to generate more electrons.   Through continued research and development, and the help of many others worldwide, the 2023 QE Prize laureates have significantly reduced the costs of solar panels, with the cost of solar power generation falling by over 80% in the past decade. PERC technology is now the most commercially viable and efficient silicon solar cell technology used in solar panels and large-scale electricity production, and accounts for almost 90% of the global solar cell market. “

In receiving this award, Andrew Blakers FRSN FTSE, who is now an Emeritus Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University said “It is an honour to be presented the 2023 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering alongside academic colleagues and friends at a venue that is as renowned as Buckingham Palace.”

A summary of the PERC technology that originated at UNSW during the 1980s, together with a report on, and images from, the Buckingham Palace presentation ceremony, can be seen on the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering website.

The Council of the Royal Society of New South Wales extends its very warm congratulations to Professor Andrew Blakers, and all members of the team, on this recognition of their profound discovery that is contributing greatly to substantially increased renewable energy generation in today’s world.

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