More than $15 million has been awarded to research projects focused on making solar panels cheaper, more efficient and sustainable.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Friday announced 16 successful projects at six universities.

Among the winning recipients is a University of NSW project focused on highly efficient, low-cost and eco-friendly recycling technology for silicon photovoltaic panels.

An Australian National University project will look at simplifying production of high-efficiency silicon solar cells.

The 16 projects were chosen from 50 applications, with ARENA boss Darren Miller pleased at the level of interest.

“A key part of the funding round was finding a solution to the end-of-life of solar panels, and we’re excited to see some interesting new research into this area,” he said.

“It’s an important part in our transition to renewable energy as we need to ensure that materials used in solar panels can be recycled or repurposed for future use.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said there was currently no sustainable solution for managing used solar panels.

Solving the problem was a priority given Australia’s rapid uptake of household solar, he said.