DLR and Helmholtz centres in Jülich and Berlin agree on cooperation with the US energy research institute NREL
Studies have demonstrated the vast potential of solar power; for example, the deserts on Earth receive more solar energy in just six hours than the world’s population consumes in an entire year.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the Jülich Research Center (Forschungszentrum Jülich; FZJ) and the Berlin-based Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie; HBZ) reached agreement on 23 June 2011 to collaborate in the field of solar energy research with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Through this cooperation with the United States’ largest research institution for renewable energy, these German institutes are seeking to close gaps in their research and speed up the process of technology development.
Shorter time to market for innovations
"The three research centres in the Helmholtz Association and NREL will intensify their collaboration in the development of solar-thermal power stations and photovoltaics. Working together, we can develop innovative and efficient components that will enter the market more rapidly." said Ulrich Wagner, DLR Executive Board Member for Energy and Transport. The agreement was signed in Berlin by leading representatives of both research organisations in the presence of Greg Delawie, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Germany, and Thomas Rachel, a Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF).
Studies have demonstrated the vast potential of solar power; for example, the deserts on Earth receive more solar energy in just six hours than the world’s population consumes in an entire year. To enable the cost-efficient conversion of solar power into electricity, solar cells and solar thermal power stations need to operate more efficiently and become much less expensive to build. Scientists at the involved research centres are hard at work improving the technologies currently in use and are also pursuing new approaches. They are developing direct evaporation to market maturity for solar -thermal power stations. With this type of solar power station, sunlight is concentrated to directly produce steam that then goes on to power an electricity generator. In the photovoltaic sector, researchers are working on approaches involving nanostructure materials and novel module architectures.
DLR, FZJ and HBZ are the three leading Helmholtz Association research centres in the solar power sector. HZB and FZJ are focussing their research on new thin-film materials for solar cells. DLR is one of the world’s leading institutions in the development of solar thermal power stations. In addition, DLR researchers are also working on the development of new types of storage facilities for solar-thermal power stations capable of storing heat captured during the day to enable power stations to generate electricity around the clock.
This research is being conducted at the DLR sites in Cologne, Stuttgart and Almería in Spain. NREL works on behalf of the US Department of Energy and has many years of experience in the development of solar thermal power stations.
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