At the MIT Energy Conference this morning, Foreign Minister of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, along with MIT President Susan Hockfield and Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, participated in the announcement ceremony for the founding of the MIT-Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy Systems. In addition to the foreign minister, the principal participants were Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Professor Eicke Weber, MIT Energy Initiative Co-Director, Professor Ernie Moniz, and Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Karl Weiss. An MOU was signed by Moniz and Weber and witnessed by Weiss, Bowles and Dr. William Hartman, Vice President of Fraunhofer USA. Weiss's organization pledged $5M to fund the start-up of the new center in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During his comments, Weber recognized Lawrence Reilly, Executive Vice President of National Grid, for the utility's agreement to support the center as the principal utility member of the Center's Partnership with Industry with a commitment of $1M over five years. Weber also announced that Nolan Browne, Professor Tonio Buonassisi and Professor Roland Schindler will be the center's founding directors.
"Under Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts intends to be a world leader in clean energy technology," said Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. "The MIT-Fraunhofer Center will be a vital asset in that quest going forward." The center, which will be located adjacent to the MIT campus, will be active in many areas of sustainable energy, with its initial focuses in solar, green buildings and energy device prototyping. Prof. Eicke Weber stated, "The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems has been highly successful over 25 years in developing technologies in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and transferring these innovations to industry. I expect that our new Center for Sustainable Energy Systems at MIT will be as successful here in Massachusetts and help achieve the state's goals in climate protection."
Dr. William Hartman stressed the practical aspects of the Center's mission, "We look forward to working with MIT to establish a close relationship with the New England Energy Cluster; thereby facilitating the quick transfer of the results of the Center's applied research to the commercial sector." The center's goal in solar is to significantly reduce the cost of solar over the next five years by employing advanced materials and "smart" electronics to research, design and build better "plug-and-play" solar modules. The MIT-Fraunhofer center's mission in green buildings is to substantially reduce the energy consumption of new and retrofitted structures by adapting state-of-the-art building technology on both sides of the Atlantic to local needs, while further developing the technology in conjunction with MIT's excellence in advanced materials R&D and computer simulation capabilities.
Dr. Roland Schindler explains, "The Fraunhofer CSE will be a gateway to the 56 Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany, including the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance, synergistically combining Fraunhofer's state-of-the-art laboratories and applied research expertise with the basic research and innovative culture of MIT. This will enable us to provide a unique and customized set of services to each of our contract research partners."