Fraunhofer ISE head to step down, run for public office

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Despite renewing his position as head of the Fraunhofer ISE for a further three years, Eicke Weber has surprised the solar community by resigning from his post. Even more surprising is the news that he will stand for the economic liberal political party the Free Democratic Party (FPD).

Eicke Weber will stand in the forthcoming state elections in the state of Baden-Württemberg for the FDP. FDP chairman Michael Theurer spoke warmly of Weber’s move.

"I welcome this sensational nomination [of Weber] for the Freiburg Free Democrats,” said Theurer. Fraunhofer ISE headquarters is in the city of Freiburg. “To win, it is important the FDP has exceptional and widely recognized personalities.” Theurer is also a member of the European Parliament.

With Eicke Weber, the FDP now has a non-party candidate who is commited to both ecology and economy, as well as environmental protection through technology.

Weber will retire from his Fraunhofer ISE post over the next year. The position at Fraunhofer come combined with a professorship in physics are Freiburg University.

While Weber’s move into politics might not be entirely unsuprising, his choice of party is. The FDP has been associated with the deep cuts to solar subsidies in Germany, having been a part of the ruling coalition that delivered the changes in 2012. As a result, Germany’s PV market has retracted drammatically in recent years from over 7 GW in 2010 and 2011 to the around 1.5 GW expected this year.