Fraunhofer CSE Center Director Discusses Democratization of Solar Energy at German American Conference 2015

Fraunhofer CSE Center Director Dr. Christian Hoepfner was a featured panelist at the German American Conference at Harvard.

Fraunhofer CSE Center Director Dr. Christian Hoepfner was a featured panelist at the German American Conference at Harvard.

Fraunhofer CSE’s Center Director, Dr. Christian Hoepfner, joined other panelists, including Richard Morgenstar, former U.S. Ambassador, and Philipp Steinberg, Chief of Staff to German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, to discuss energy policies at the German American Conference, which took place at Harvard University from October 30 to October 31.

The panel, Energy Policies – The Balance Sheet, featured speakers from politics, think tanks, and academia, and critically reviewed both the U.S. and the German policies regarding traditional and renewable energy sources. The panelists discussed differences between the U.S. and Germany, such as the reliance on gas, penetration of renewables, carbon emissions, and centralized vs. decentralized markets. They agreed that carbon emissions can and should be reduced and utilization of renewable energy sources in the U.S. increased.

Dr. Hoepfner remarked on the fragmented policies in the U.S., which affect the extent to which clean energy can be accessed throughout the country, but stated that “right now, something interesting is happening in the U.S., where groups as diverse as environmentalists, conservatives, and libertarians are working together because solar and distributed generation can contribute to their respective policy goals.” Dr. Hoepfner emphasized that, “the technology required to transition to 80 or even 100% renewables largely exists. The remaining challenges lie in system integration and cost. But, as the recent years have shown, we should not underestimate how fast progress in these areas can be made with targeted investments.”

Fraunhofer CSE and a large number of industry partners are working on Plug & Play PV Systems, which will reduce the overall costs of acquiring, permitting, and installing solar photovoltaics to $1.50/Watt down from an average of $4.00/Watt today. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative as part of a larger U.S. Department of Energy investment aimed at developing technology solutions that reduce the “soft” costs of residential solar PV systems.

To learn more about the Fraunhofer CSE Plug & Play PV Systems, visit the Fraunhofer CSE website.

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