Solar Pioneer to Receive Solar Energy Award

Martin A. Green, Inaugural Scientia Professor at the Center for Photovoltaic Engineering and foundation director of the Center for Third Generation Photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, is the winner of the 2003 Karl Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award.

Delaware, Australia – February 26, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The medal and a cash award of AU$40,000 (US$25,000) are given to an individual who has made significant pioneering contributions to the promotion of solar energy as an alternative source of energy. Applicants are considered from the fields of research, development and economic enterprise, as well as those who have made extraordinarily valuable and enduring contributions to the field of solar energy in other ways. Green’s innovative research efforts have played a critical role in the development of high performance crystalline silicon solar cell technology and he has recently established a center to develop “third generation” photovoltaic technologies,” said Robert W. Birkmire, executive director of the Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Trust. The 2003 award will be presented on April 28 at the University of Delaware. Funded by an endowment, the award is given in honor of Karl Wolfgang Böer, a longtime faculty member of the University of Delaware, founder of its Institute of Energy Conversion and a distinguished scientist in the field of solar cells. The recipient of the award is chosen by a panel of commissioners composed of scientists and presidents of several solar energy-related professional societies, a representative of the U.S. Secretary of Energy and a member of the Böer family. The first Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award was presented in 1993 to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was cited as an individual that spurred development and focused world attention on solar energy. Green is well-known as the founder and head of the Australian center, which, since 1983, has dominated the development of improved silicon cells, the main commercial cell technology. In the early 1980s, Green questioned the validity of the then-understood performance limits for the cells and undertook an efficiency study that showed them to have plenty of room for improvement. In 1983, his team took the highest independently confirmed silicon cell efficiency from 16.4 percent to 18 percent, and in 1985 it achieved “the four minute mile of photovoltaics” by demonstrating the first 20 percent efficient silicon cells. It has since improved the rating to beyond 24 percent. The research has greatly increased international expectations as to commercially feasible efficiencies. In the early 1980s when developing the first 20 percent efficient cell, Green co-invented and developed a novel high-efficiency, low-cost “buried contact” solar cell. This approach has been licensed to many of the world’s largest manufacturers and, with more than AU$100 million (US$60 million) in sales to date, is now the most successfully commercialized new solar cell technology since that time. In 1995, Green’s thin-film crystalline silicon on glass technology was looking sufficiently promising to encourage the major Australian utility, Pacific Power, to invest more than AU$30 million (US$18 million) in its commercialization. Pacific Solar was formed by Pacific Power and Unisearch Ltd., the commercial company of the University of New South Wales, to develop and commercialize solar cell technology developed by the center. Green is a member of the Board of Directors and the Research Director for Pacific Solar Pty. Ltd. and has published numerous books and papers on the technical aspects of photovoltaics. He is the author of “Solar Cells,” the most widely used and cited book on the subject, which has had three additional printings and been translated into five languages. Another book, “Power to the People,” introduces photovoltaics to the general public, and a third book, “Third Generation Photovoltaics: Advanced Solar Conversion” will be published this spring. His international awards and honors, include the 1990 IEEE William R. Cherry Award for outstanding contributions to photovoltaic science and technology, the 1995 IEEE J.J. Ebers Award for sustained technical leadership in the field of silicon photovoltaic energy conversion, the 1999 Australian Prize, the 2000 Millennium Award for the outstanding scientist from the World Renewable Energy Congress and a Humboldt Senior Scientist Award in 2001 in recognition of a lifetime of achievements in science.
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