Forget your Avengers, your X-Men and your other super-groups (yes, we’re talking about you, Queens of the Stone Age), if there is any planet saving to be done from now on it will be accomplished by the new Global Alliance of Solar Energy Research Institutions. Okay, so the name makes for a tight fit across the front of your typical superhero costume, but the new alliance could provide the global solar industry with the kind of rocket-propelled boost that it needs to break through into the mainstream energy landscape.
Three Solar Power Research Powerhouses
GASERI joins the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and Japan’s Research Center for Photovoltaic Technologies.
As NREL rather drily puts it, the goal is to “accelerate progress toward shared solar research and development goals as well as to ensure sustainable long-term use of solar energy.”
The core of GASERI will be an exchange program, in which each of the three participants will send researchers to each others’ laboratories for long term, collaborative projects lasting up to two years.
NREL, Fraunhofer and RCPT
NREL should ring a bell with regular CleanTechnica readers, since it has been a pioneer in the solar energy field across 35 years of both Democratic and Republican administrations.
We’ve covered some of NREL’s solar power projects such as its work on see-through solar cells in partnership with the company New Energy Technologies, and we’ve also talked about some of the educational tools NREL has created for the renewable energy industry and the general public including a free online renewable energy map and a tool for rating green utilities.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems is Europe’s largest applied solar power research organization, with multiple research alliances across Europe and in the U.S., and significant funding from private sector partners in the solar power industry.
A sprawling network of research and industry affiliations will also come into play for the Research Center for Photovoltaic Technologies, which is part of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
No More Solyndras?
The announcement of this significant international effort to boost the global solar power industry comes as the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives considers “No More Solyndras” legislation that would shoot down the Department of Energy’s successful loan guarantee program.
The loan program provided funding for the notoriously failed Solyndra company, but it has also played a key role in helping the U.S. solar power industry position itself to regain the leadership status it once held in the global solar market.
If the loan guarantee program is ended, it will take away critical support from the U.S. solar industry, leaving the fruits of GASERI’s research to companies based in Germany, Japan, and elsewhere around the globe.
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.