In July 1981, Prof. Adolf Goetzberger founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE with a staff of around 20 scientists. Having overcome initial resistance, he was able to convince the executive board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft that it was time for this leading institute for applied research to focus on sustainable energy supply as an alternative to fossil fuels. It has been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but Fraunhofer ISE has become the second largest Fraunhofer institute, and the energy industry is one of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s eight leading markets. Sustainable value creation has become one of the guiding principles of what Europe’s largest institute for industry-driven research does.
Today, with a staff of over 1200 employees, Fraunhofer ISE is also Europe’s largest solar research institute and one of the world’s most influential driving forces and research partners pursuing an energy supply entirely from renewable sources.
From the outset, Fraunhofer ISE has been focused on systemic issues of great topical relevance. This is reflected in its five business areas – Photovoltaics, Energy-Efficient Buildings, Hydrogen Technologies and Electrical Energy Storage, Solar Thermal Power Plants and Industrial Processes, and Power Electronics, Grids and Smart Systems. A great visionary of his time, Prof. Goetzberger focused R&D efforts on renewable energy production as early as 40 years ago and promoted a systemic approach right from the outset. Since then, energy system analysis and technology roadmaps have been added to the research portfolio – both increasingly relevant for policy advice. This is evinced by the recent “Paths to a Climate-Neutral Energy System – The German Energy Transition in its Social Context.”