Types of photovoltaic engineering

Photovoltaic engineering is the unique discipline devoted to turning sunlight directly into electricity by using solar cells. This encompasses everything from how materials behave at the atomic level to the modelling and construction of utility scale power generation facilities. Photovoltaics as a science and an engineering practice is making available our most abundant resource on the planet: sunlight.    

Photovoltaic engineers can be involved in developing and refining cell production methods, installing and maintaining systems and further integrating photovoltaics into everyday life. Opportunities are found in many fields.

Utility scale photovoltaics via NREL

These include:

  • Refining cell production technology
  • Researching and developing multi-junction cells
  • Concentrated solar power
  • Multi-axis tracking
  • Thin film technologies
  • Grid-connection and integration
  • Utility scale developments
  • Independent system design
  • Building integrated photovoltaics

Career opportunities

Career opportunities in photovoltaics

There has been explosive growth in the photovoltaic industry. So much so that the Australian government provided special funding to help establish the UNSW Bachelor of Engineering in Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering degree. You can see the results of this growth in Australia where we now have over one million houses with photovoltaics energy systems installed on their roofs. So, who is in this industry? Who has a job supported by this technology?

  •     Solar cell manufactures
  •     Inverter designers and manufacturers
  •     People who install solar systems - electricians & their helpers
  •     Bankers who loan money for the systems
  •     Government policy makers
  •     and many, many more....

Our graduates are equipped to work in large engineering companies or small start-up companies. Photovoltaic engineers have many of the skills of an electrical engineer but with a focus in energy and power - its generation, storage and efficient use.

Opportunities range from premier solar cell manufacturers like First Solar, JA Solar or Suntech to engineering companies like Schneider Electric, property developers like Lend Lease and award-winning design organisations like Cundall Australia or even the energy market itself.  Many of our graduates have found places with Ausgrid, Energy Australia and Infigen Energy among others.