In the 15 years since its foundation, the Global Energy Prize has been awarded to 35 scientists and researchers around the world who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their field. The laureates come from nine different countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the USA.
In 1970 and 1972, Martin Green received the Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering degrees from the University of Queensland (Australia).
In 1974, he received his Ph.D from McMaster University (Canada).
In 1983, Green wondered whether the then-understood efficiency limits of silicon solar cells were really valid, and undertook a fundamental study of their performance-limiting mechanisms. He found out that the limits were caused by one specific process. That is, the photo-excited carriers transmitted their energy to their “neighbors” which were unable to use it effectively. On the basis of this discovery, in 1984 he predicted 25% energy conversion efficiency was feasible, while the best laboratory samples of that time were less than 17% efficient.
Since 1986, he has been a Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), and since 2013, Director of the Australian Research Center for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP).
Professor Green is the winner of many scientific and industry awards. In particular, in 2003 he was awarded the Karl Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit for a “significant pioneering contributions to the promotion of solar energy as an alternative source of energy”. Among many other awards, in 2004 he received the World Technology Award in the field of energy, and in 2007, SolarWorld Einstein Award for “outstanding work in the field of solar energy”.
For more than three decades, Martin Green has been making his revolutionary contribution into silicon photovoltaics. For many years, he has been a world-leading specialist in both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar cells. At UNSW Sydney, he founded the world’s largest and best-known photovoltaic power engineering research group.
He is the author of the first scientific article identifying the fundamental limitations of silicon photocell efficiency.
Green invented the PERC solar cell (a solar cell with passivated emitter and rear surfaces). At present, their sales are second-highest in the world. In 2017, PERC accounted for over 24% of the silicon cell manufacturing capacity. By 2020, this figure is expected to reach 50%.
In 1989, his team supplied the solar cells for the first photovoltaic system with an energy conversion efficiency of 20%, which was based on the use of a module with a Fresnel concentrating lens measuring 1800 cm2 in area. Much later in 2014, he headed the development team that first demonstrated the conversion of sunlight into electricity with an energy conversion efficiency of 40%.
Martin Green is a co-inventor of the “laser doped, selective emitter solar cell”. From 2009 - 2011, Suntech sold one billion dollars’ worth of solar panels using this type of cell.
The significant reduction in costs in photovoltaics (90%) over the recent years is directly related to Professor Green’s scientific effort, largely through the efforts of his students in establishing manufacturing in low-cost regions of Asia.
He is a co-inventor of polycrystalline silicon thin film cells launched into mass production in 2006.
Green is the head of the team that has created the first silicon LED capable to convert electric power into optical energy with more than 1% efficiency in 2001. This is 10 to 100 times better than the previously best result.
He is the holder of many patents, author of 8 books and numerous reports, as well as more than 754 publications. The scientist’s Hirsch’s index is 87, and citation index, 35375. He is included in the list of the world’s top 2,610 Highly Cited Researchers (Hirsch index >100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles (http://www.webometrics.info/en/node/58).
The sales of the systems containing the PERC solar cells invented by Martin Green exceeded $10 billion by the end of 2017. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance predictions, the total sales of solar cells using his technology will exceed 1 trillion USD by 2040.
Although Martin Green is known primarily for his work with silicon technology, he is also one of the pioneers in the area of perovskite photocells. He says that those silicon-free batteries are so easy to manufacture and efficient in operation that they could have a really big future. He also believes that perovskite may be used as a supplement to silicon solar panels by combining the two materials to produce stacked cells, potentially reducing the cost per watt of electricity.
According to the scientist, “The efficiency of solar modules is an area whose progress has been faster than many experts expected, and this is good news. We need to maintain the pace of research in Australia, not only to achieve impressive results, but also to benefit society by providing a cheap, low-carbon source of electricity”.
The Australian solar cell research has already attracted many billion dollars in investment. The increase in commercial solar cell efficiency has become possible due to the invention of PERC elements by the University of New South Wales. PERC elements are already becoming the commercial standard all over the world. According to forecasts, they will save at least 750 million dollars in power production costs over the next decade in Australia alone.