Concentration TowerAs the world’s hunger for energy grows and the supply of fossil fuels becomes less certain, interest in renewable energy is mushrooming. Fortunately, the solar energy that reaches the earth in one hour is enough to supply the world’s energy needs for a year. 

The prestigious Dan David Prize committee acknowledged the importance of energy to our world by selecting energy for the topic of the Dan David 2007 Prize in the Future Category, and they specifically highlighted the importance of solar energy by awarding the prize to Jerry Olson and Sarah Kurtz for their work on High-Efficiency, Multi-junction, and GaInP/GaAs Solar Cells. These high-efficiency solar cells open up a broad vista of possibilities for solar electricity on a utility scale because of the attractive economics of using inexpensive optics to focus light on tiny, very efficient solar cells.

And this is just one area in the rapidly-evolving field of solar energy. At the newly-created UC Merced Energy Research Institute, more than a dozen UC Merced professors from the Schools of Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts are conducting research that:

  •  Leads to new and improved renewable and sustainable energy generation technologies.
  • Sets the standard for institutional energy efficiency and sustainable energy futures.
  • Educates the energy industry and the next generation of energy scholars and practitioners.
  • Examines domestic and global energy policy.

Roland WinstonIn the area of solar energy alone, UC Merced researchers are studying: thermodynamically efficient (nonimaging) solar concentration for photovoltaic, solar thermal, and solar daylighting; carbon nanotube solar cells and quantum dot semiconductors for solar energy conversion; and the combination of satellite and radar data with ground-based solar irradiance measurements to forecast solar irradiance.

This symposium, which is being jointly sponsored by the Dan David Foundation and the UC Merced Energy Research Institute, will feature educational sessions describing recent advances in multi-junction cells and optical concentration systems, and it will include presentations from energy leaders describing their own efforts to make solar technology more ubiquitous.

Attendees will obtain fundamental technical knowledge regarding what technical approaches are working in the solar industry and where the technology needs to be improved, while also gaining valuable insight into corporate and government efforts to embrace emerging solar technologies.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be an exciting event.