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Fraunhofer ISE founder, solar pioneer Adolf Goetzberger dies

Adolf Goetzberger, the founder of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and an early proponent of photovoltaics, passed away on Feb. 24 at the age of 94.

From pv magazine Germany

Adolf Goetzberger, who died on Feb. 24 at the age of 94, was a key figure in the history of German solar research. Goetzberger, an experimental physicist and honorary professor in the Faculty of Physics at the University of Freiburg, founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in 1981. That same year, he developed the idea of agrivoltaics in cooperation with Armin Zastrow.

Goetzberger went to the United States after completing his doctorate in 1955 on the crystallization of vapor-deposited antimony layers. After working with Nobel Prize winner William Shockley, he returned to Germany in 1968 and took over the management of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF. In 1971, he was appointed honorary professor in the Faculty of Physics at the University of Freiburg.

In 1981, he set up a Fraunhofer IAF working group to form the independent Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which he led until 1993.

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“I was able to convince the then president of the Fraunhofer Society, but his advisers said that solar energy was impractical,” said Goetzberger on his 80th birthday. That same year, he published an article with Zastrow in Sonnenenergie magazine, “Potatoes under the collector,” to explain the idea of agrovoltaics.

Goetzberger held more than 30 patents and was the president of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie e.V. (DGS). His contributions to solar energy have been recognized in numerous ways. In 1983, for example, he was the first German to receive the J. J. Ebers Award from the US-based IEEE Electron Devices Society for the development of the silicon field effect transistor. And in 2009, he was given a Lifetime Achievement award by the European Patent Office.

“We bow to Adolf Goetzberger’s life’s work and are grateful to him for his services to the development of solar energy systems and thus his major contribution to a global energy transition,” said Hans-Martin Henning, one of the two current directors of Fraunhofer ISE.

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Source: pv magazine