The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has held a scientific symposium on the global energy transition to mark the retirement of Institute Director Eicke Weber. After ten years, Weber will give up his post as head of Fraunhofer ISE by the end of the year, citing his age. The institute has not yet named a successor.
The event at Freiburg’s concert hall celebrated Weber’s great scientific and political commitment to the global Energy Transition, as well as his work as a representative of German solar research in the international arena. ??Since Weber took office in 2006, Fraunhofer ISE’s workforce has more than doubled to more than 1,100 employees. Over this time period, the operating budget of the institute grew from about €25 million to €73 million last year.
"Eicke R. Weber was the right man at the right time,” reads a statement from Fraunhofer ISE. “When photovoltaics boomed in Germany, Fraunhofer ISE became the second largest Fraunhofer institute with its scientific background as a silicon material researcher and excellent connections in business and politics.”
During his time as institute manager, Weber also participated in research facilities in Halle, Boston and Santiago, Chile. Regarding carbon-free global energy Weber was always looking for connections in science, business and politics.
At the farewell symposium a range of colleagues and industry officials praised the commitment of Weber. These included Dirk-Holger Neuhaus from SolarWorld, Norbert Pralle from the Ed. Züblin AG, Thomas Speidel from Energiespeicher, Lars Samuelson from the Nanometer Structure Consortium, Rolf Brendel from the Institute for Solar Energy Research, and Hans-Martin Henning from Fraunhofer ISE. Even American economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin turned in a video message to the participants.
??In part due to Weber’s work, Fraunhofer ISE has performed research on all relevant research areas of the Energy Transition. This includes energy efficiency, solar thermal, electromobility, smart grid as well as energy system analysis. Fraunhofer ISE also operates accredited test labs for the solar industry.
Weber has always had a particular interest in energy storage. He was also a major contributor to the founding of the German Energy Storage Association BVES. Until the spring of this year, he was still the first president of this organization and since 2016 he has also served as chair of the annual Energy Storage Europe conference in Düsseldorf, which will be listed by the Federal Ministry of Economics as the leading international trade fair for energy storage.
As head of Fraunhofer ISE, Weber was also involved in the spin-off of start-ups. A total of eight companies have been established since 2006, including Nexwafe or the Vallis Solaris project.