Fraunhofer opens a Centre for Solar Energy Technologies in Chile

The Fraunhofer Chile Research Center for Solar Energy Technologies (FCR-CSET) was inaugurated this morning in the presence of the Undersecretary of Energy, Jimena Jara and the Executive Vice President of Corfo, Eduardo Bitran as well as the Executive Director of Fraunhofer Chile Research, Wolfgang Schuch, the Director of the new Center, Andreas Haeberle and the Director of Fraunhofer ISE, Prof. Eicke Weber.

The aim of this research center is to support the development of a solar industry in Chile, both in the areas of solar electricity generation, solar heat generation for use in industry and solar treatment of water.

The activities will be developed in close working relationship with the Fraunhofer Institute ISE, the main center for solar energy research in Europe. Its director, Prof. Dr. Eicke Weber said that “Chile offers ideal climatic conditions combined with a challenging environment for solar research. Our intention is to combine this potential with the know-how and network of all partners, including Fraunhofer Institutes, in order to promote photovoltaic, solar thermal and further technologies needed for the transformation of the energy system to sustainability, and to help implement those in Chile.”

“We are very happy to support the activities of CSET and we will follow with much interest their results. We hope they will contribute not only to the development of the renewable energies in Chile, but also to the emerge of an industry that can conduce our country to a solar economy”, highlighted the undersecretary of Energy, Jimena Jara.

FCR-CSET is supported by the “Attracting International Centres of Excellence in R & D” program of Corfo, which will provide US$ 12 million over eight years in support. It also has as a co-executor the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and has a MOU agreement with SERC Chile (Chilean Solar Energy Research Center).

The Director of FCR-CSET, Andreas Haeberle notes that there are currently 14 researchers in the Center who supply support to local industries. He expects this number reach 25 by the end of this year. “Among the major projects on which we are working, are the development and implementation of quality certifications for solar projects that ensure standards of projects being built in the country”

He adds that test equipment is being installed at the Plataforma Solar of Atacama Desert. “We want to develop and test technologies that suit the particular weather and high radiation conditions in northern Chile. This know-how  can be used to export expertise to other countries.”

FCR-CSET began operations in February this year and currently has six research and development contracts with industry. “The opportunity by FCR-CSET to contribute to a strategic goal in the energy sector in Chile, bring us closer to the role played by the 66 institutes that Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has in Germany which is based on its close collaboration with industry by developing new products and services”, comments the Executive Director of FCR, Wolfgang Schuch.