WUXI, China, Nov. 2 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), one of the world's leading manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, has announced a new collaborative research agreement with the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics at the University of New South Wales, Australia (UNSW). The agreement, which includes a $1.2 million contribution to UNSW, marks the continuation of a long and productive collaboration between the two institutions.''Suntech's research relationship with the University of New South Wales strives to make solar power an even more attractive clean solution to the world's energy needs,'' said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's Chairman and CEO. ''Through our unique collaboration, UNSW students and staff are involved in the complete technology development process, and we are able to transfer new solar technologies to commercial production in a relatively short time.'' Dr. Shi, who received his PhD degree from UNSW in 1992, is a specialist in crystalline silicon solar cell technology and holds 10 patents in the field.Suntech's contribution will fund the research and development of technology that increases the conversion efficiency of solar cells and decreases solar energy's cost per watt. Suntech and UNSW have already co- developed an advanced screen-printing technology based on the use of semiconductor fingers that enables the production of solar cells with up to 18% solar conversion efficiency. The Company has successfully conducted pilot production using this technology and will begin large scale production by the end of this year.Suntech and UNSW are currently developing technology that can produce cells with 20% solar conversion efficiency with pilot production planned to begin in 2007. Stuart Wenham, Suntech's Chief Technology Officer and Scientia Professor and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics at UNSW, will lead the research collaboration.UNSW is the world record holder in silicon solar cell efficiency and a recognized leader in developing crystalline silicon solar cell technology. In addition to this most recent agreement, Suntech also provides funding for a number of UNSW undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for training in the area of photovoltaic engineering.