Adolf Goetzberger, founder of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and an early proponent of solar power, died on February 24 at the age of 94.
Adolf Goetzberger, who died on February 24 at the age of 94, was a key figure in the history of German solar research. Goetzberger, an experimental physicist and honorary professor at the University of Freiburg’s Faculty of Physics, founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in 1981. In the same year, he developed the idea of agrivoltaics in collaboration with Armin Zastrow.
Goetzberger went to the United States after completing his doctorate in 1955 on the crystallization of vapor-deposited antimony layers. After working with Nobel Prize winner William Shockley, he returned to Germany in 1968 and took over the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF. In 1971, he was appointed honorary professor at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Freiburg.
In 1981, he founded the Fraunhofer IAF working group to form the independent Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which he headed until 1993.
“I was able to convince the then president of the Fraunhofer Society, but his advisers said that solar energy was impractical,” Goetzberger said on his 80th birthday. In the same year, he published an article with Zastrow Solar energy magazine, “Potatoes Under the Collector”, to explain the idea of agrovoltaic.
Goetzberger held more than 30 patents and was chairman of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie eV (DGS). His contributions to solar energy have been recognized in many ways. For example, in 1983 he was the first German to receive the JJ Ebers Award from the American IEEE Electron Devices Society for the development of a silicon field-effect transistor. And in 2009, the European Patent Office awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“We bow to Adolf Goetzberger’s life’s work and are grateful to him for his services in the development of solar energy systems and thus for his significant contribution to the global energy transition,” said Hans-Martin Henning, another current director of Fraunhofer ISE. .