CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts -- October 13th, 2009 -- This afternoon, Fraunhofer USA, Inc.'s Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) officially opened its first laboratory, a PV module innovation facility, at a high-profile ribbon cutting ceremony headlined by German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth and Massachusetts Energy Secretary Bowles.
The new PV module laboratory enables research, development, testing and evaluation of new materials and production processes for photovoltaic solar modules with the aim to increase module energy yield, reduce cost, and extend module durability. A broad set of state of the art fabrication equipment and characterization tools has been installed, and is now being used by CSE scientists in their mission to make PV technology affordable for widespread use.
The Center's photovoltaic expertise is complemented by the CSE Building Energy Efficiency Group, which performs work related to energy-efficient buildings and components. The areas of focus include deep energy retrofits, residential energy management, and building-integrated photovoltaics. To support these activities, an additional laboratory is currently under development, incorporating indoor as well as field-testing capabilities.
The opening ceremony saw Ambassador Scharioth and Massachusetts Secretary of Energy Ian Bowles joined by Fraunhofer USA Executive Vice President Dr. William Hartman, MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest Moniz, and Deputy Director of Fraunhofer's Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Andreas Bett. A diverse audience included MIT faculty, members of state and city government, representatives from high-tech startup and multinational companies, and venture capital funds engaged in sustainable and renewable technology development.
With its multinational personnel and support from Fraunhofer institutes across Germany, the facility is the latest link in the "Transatlantic Climate Bridge", an initiative launched by the German government in the autumn of 2008 in an effort to unite like-minded German and American institutions in the fight against climate change. Speaking at the Center's official announcement in April 2008, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier remarked that the CSE represented an "excellent example of joint action" between the U.S. and Europe in tackling the challenges of sustainable and renewable energy. Steinmeier's sentiments were echoed by Ambassador Scharioth, an active proponent of the Climate Bridge, at a speech delivered during the opening ceremony.
Fraunhofer CSE is financially supported by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, National Grid and anonymous private donors on the US side and from the German Federal Government's Ministry for Education and Research via the Fraunhofer Society well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.
Nolan Browne, Managing Director of the Center, stated, "Fraunhofer CSE is fortunate to have a very talented team of scientists working in PV who bring a great depth of expertise in module materials, manufacturing and modeling." Roland Schindler, the CSE's Executive Director, who joined the group last year from the world-leading Freiburg-based Institute for Solar Energy Systems, noted that Fraunhofer CSE has gone to great lengths to ensure that the facility offers capabilities in module fabrication and testing that enable R&D projects to be undertaken on behalf of industry. Schindler added, "We offer the capability of developing new module designs and optimizing manufacturing processes that incorporate new module materials in order to further lower the cost of PV electricity generation. Some of our testing equipment is unique in its flexibility to enable measurement of energy yield under a wide variety of environmental conditions."