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New technology to help solar shine::

The Gillard Labor Government is investing in a project with Melbourne's Semitech Semiconductor Pty Ltd to develop technology to reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic systems, making solar power more affordable for households and business.

Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, attended the Semitech Semiconductor premises in Kensington with Cath Bowtell, the Labor Candidate for the Seat of Melbourne, to announce a grant of $1.86 million for the project.

It will help Semitech Semiconductors develop an innovative, single-chip micro-inverter designed to make solar power a more competitive and reliable option for households and businesses.

The grant is part of the Gillard Government's $200 million Clean Technology Innovation Program, funded by revenue from the carbon price.

This program is helping Australian businesses to research, develop and commercialise innovative clean technologies which reduce carbon pollution and improve energy efficiency.

"The carbon price has settled into Australia's economy and is working to reduce carbon pollution," Mr Combet said.

"As part of this transformation, the Gillard Government is partnering with businesses to invest in clean and renewable technologies.

"Our assistance to Semitech Semiconductor is a great example of these partnerships."

Ms Bowtell congratulated the company on developing technology that will help households and businesses cut emissions.

"I am delighted that a Melbourne company is contributing to our clean energy future and that Labor is helping turn this clever idea into reality," said Ms Bowtell.

"Solar power is becoming more affordable for households and businesses and this technology is another step in that direction," she said.

A micro-inverter converts direct current electricity to alternating current which in turn can be fed into an existing electrical grid. This new technology will increase the power generated by solar power systems by up to 10 per cent without the increased costs usually associated with micro-inverters.

Micro-inverters solve the problem of shade on one solar panel dramatically reducing the effectiveness of the entire array - but they can be up to 35 per cent more expensive than conventional central inverters.

Semitech Semiconductor's technology eliminates the need for peripherals such as additional processing chips, a modem or a separate controller. It is an integrated circuit that contains the resources to perform the functions of a micro-inverter and smart grid communication.

"The global clean energy market is growing rapidly and it is important that Australian innovations are commercialised so we can export our expertise to major markets including China and the United States," said Mr Combet.

The $200 million Clean Technology Innovation Program is an important part of the Gillard Government's plan for a Clean Energy Future.

It will help create new business opportunities, new industries and new jobs.

Grants of between $50,000 and $5 million are provided to successful applicants and applications are accepted on a continuous basis. More information on the program is available at ausindustry.gov.au.

Media contacts: Minister's office 02 6277 7920

06 March 2013