WUXI, China and SYDNEY, May 11, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), one of the world's leading producer of crystalline silicon solar panels, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Silex Solar will together research advanced technology to further improve the power conversion efficiencies of crystalline silicon solar cells. The three-year collaborative research project today received an AUD5 million grant from the Australian Solar Institute (ASI), the largest award given to any of the 87 grant applicants in the ASI's first competitive funding call. "The ASI, through funding from the Australian Commonwealth Government, invests in Australian research innovation that aims to reduce the costs of solar energy. We are pleased to support the world-renowned team at UNSW in collaboration with its industry partners Suntech and Silex Solar through this ground-breaking project," said the ASI's Executive Director Mark Twidell. In addition to the AUD5 million research grant from the ASI, both Silex Solar and Suntech will contribute more than AUD6 million in direct funding and in-kind research resources over the next three years to support research operations. "Silex Solar and UNSW are ideal partners for this solar research project, made possible by the vision and leadership of the Australian Solar Institute. Our long-term research collaborations with Australian organizations are central to driving solar innovation," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Chairman and CEO of Suntech, a graduate of UNSW, as well as a fellow at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). "As our earth suffers under the strains of fossil fuel energy production, we are empowering individuals and communities in Australia and around the world to look up and harness nature's cleanest and most abundant energy resource." The research project -- another chapter in Suntech's long-standing collaboration with UNSW -- will focus on the development of advanced solar cell device designs and innovative high volume cell manufacturing processes to achieve significant performance improvements and cost reduction breakthroughs. The research is expected to complement Suntech's development of high- efficiency Pluto technology. "This promising research collaboration will hopefully generate additional enhancements to our industry-leading photovoltaic cells," said Dr. Stuart Wenham, Chief Technology Officer for Suntech and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics at UNSW. "Our goal, by the end of this project, is to drive solar electricity generation past grid parity against retail electricity prices in more than 50% of the world's markets." Suntech nearly doubled its R&D investments in 2009 to US$29 million, up from US$15 million in 2008. Globally, Suntech employs 380 full-time solar R&D engineers and professionals who work across China, Japan, Germany, the United States, and Australia. The company expects further R&D investment growth in the coming years, creating cutting-edge technology to advance the use of solar power everywhere under the sun.