In the spirit of collaboration, two of the largest solar power research institutes, the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the American National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the express purpose of forwarding international research and technological development of next-generation photovoltaic electricity generation capabilities.
The sharing of information is one of the top priorities of the agreement and is obviously the simplest way to impel further collaborative scientific research. Signed by IEE Director-General, Xiao Liye, and NREL Director, Dan E. Arvizu, the new agreement clearly stipulates that the two institutions will collaborate in the specific field of photovoltaic battery and component testing and research. The work is slated to be done at a new Chinese facility, which will be built at the Institute of Electrical Engineering. Researchers from both countries will work at this new center and visit several times a year.
It is expected that the developmental and testing stages of the research process will be shortened considerably because as prototypes are developed, the technology will be shared. The focus of the research has not changed. As it did in the past, it will concern significant innovations that help to further the progress of solar energy such as electrical technology, modern electric vehicle technology, applicable superconductor technology, and biomedical engineering.
Still, the American National Renewable Energy Laboratory plans to continue its “pioneer work” in the solar energy field, conducting experiments in the areas of solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, hydrogen fuel, and fuel cells. China’s hand has been forced quite a bit in this area because of its heavy reliance on fossil fuel. It is time to switch to more environmental-friendly energy sources and China is ready, if the cost is within reach. China will never renounce its main power source, coal, but planning over the next few years to supplement it with renewable energy is a very appealing prospect.
Time will tell, even if the sun will always retain its many secrets.