Seventh Annual Symposium

Seventh Annual Symposium on Solar Power

November 6, 2008

Optoelectronics Center Director and Event Host Dr. Mike Fiddy

Press Release -Optics Center Symposium on Solar energy draws over 150 attendees

The 7th Annual Symposium of the Center for Optoelectronics and Optical Communications was held on Thursday November 6th.  This was the first such symposium to have a specific theme, namely the role of optics in technologies for renewable energy.  The meeting was sponsored by the Charlotte Research Institute and the vendor exhibit highlighted products from fifteen companies, including Sencera, Balluff, Veeco, Busch and Argand Energy Solutions.    Dhiaa  Jamil, Group Executive and Chief Nuclear Officer for Duke Energy set the scene, describing the challenges facing the energy industry today, both because of imminent workforce shortages and the need to  develop affordable renewable energy sources such as solar.  He is chairing the advisory board for the new UNCC Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) borne out of the College of Engineering.   National initiatives to address these concerns were described by Ed Walker, Co-PI of NSF’s "Powering the Planet” program and Alex Huang from NCSU,  PI of a new NSF ERC that looks to develop technology that allows even domestic energy generation to feed seamlessly into the national grid.   The NC Solar Center, founded in 1988,  was represented by Alex Hobbs who described the testing and training services they provide, along with support in dealing with the myriad of regulations that go with use of renewables.   Michael Lebby,   President of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association, provided a detailed and encouraging survey of global initiatives, especially in Germany, to adopt solar power generation.

Following these big picture presentations, more detailed technical talks on the merits and limitations of harvesting sunlight filled the rest of the day.  Distinguished Professor Ray Tsu, for many years leading the DOE’s photovoltaic efforts at the Solar Energy Research Institute (now the National Energy Research Laboratory : NREL) cautioned attendees to beware of over-enthusiasm and hype when reading about advances in  solar cell advances and efficiencies.  This was followed by  excellent overviews of  the state of photovoltaic R&D from Rob Walters at NRL and Angelo Mascarenhas from NREL.  Art Feldman from Newport Corporation described tools for testing solar cells and Saleem Zaidi of Gratings Inc.  presented low cost approaches to developing solar conversion technologies for the third world.  The meeting ended with a look to the future.  Mike Sullivan of Kiara demonstrated the effectiveness of some novel light concentrating optics to improve efficiencies, Ken Gonsalves and Jordan Poler from the Chemistry Department proposed innovative materials to efficiently trap light and transport charge while Matt Parrow made a compelling argument to manage sunlight to farm algae for environmentally neutral biofuels.   It was a long day, with a lot of information exchanged,  but, if I dare say it,   enlightening and highly energizing.


8.00-8.30   Coffee and registration
8.30            Introductions and welcome: Dean Johnson, Bob Wilhelm, Steve Patterson, Mike Fiddy  
8.50            Dhiaa Jamil, Group Executive and Chief Nuclear Officer, Duke Energy: Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC)  
9.10            Dr. Edwin Walker, Southern U:  “Power the Planet”  
9.35            Dr. Alex Huang, NCSU: The Green Energy Grid
10.00          Dr. Alex Hobbs, Associate Director for Renewable Technologies:  The NC Solar Center

11.00          Dr. Michael Lebby, President OIDA: Global solar and green photonics
11.40          Dr. Ray Tsu, UNCC: Perspective on energy conversion
Lunch and Exhibits  
1.15            Dr. Rob Walters, NRL: Current status of R&D in photovoltaics
1.45            Dr Angelo Mascarenhas, NREL: Key thrusts in photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Lab
2.15            Art Feldman, Newport Oriel Corporation, Equipment for testing solar cells  

3.30            Dr. Saleem H. Zaidi, President, Gratings Inc., Recent trends in photovoltaic technology: crystalline wafers versus flexible thin films.       
4.00            Dr. M. Sullivan, President, Kiara Biosystems: Solar optical design: it’s an imaging problem
4.20            Dr. K. Gonsalves, UNCC:  Organic and polymer nanostructures for harvesting solar energy
4.40            Dr. M. Parrow, UNCC: Photosynthesis and biofuels
5.00            Dr. Jordan Poler, UNCC: Harvesting light with SWCNTs  
5.30 - 7.00 Reception (wine, beer and hors-d’oeuvres) and networking in exhibit hall
6.00            Charlotte OSA Chapter Event: Professional opportunities in photonics and solar power generation - an open discussion  
7.00            Basketball (free tickets for game in Halton Arena)

Presentations that have been released by the authors for the purpose of making them publicly available are listed below

1.)  Dr. Alex Hobbs, Assoc. Director, NC Solar Center - The North Carolina Solar Center  
2.) Dr. Alex Huang, NC State University Progress Energy Distinguished Professor and Director, NSF FREEDM Systems Center  - The Green Energy Grid: a new NSF ERC  
3.) Dr. Michael Lebby, President & CEO, Optoelectronics Industry Development Association - Global solar and green photonics
4.) Dr. Mike Sullivan, President, Kiara LLC - Solar Optical Design: It's an Imaging Problem
5.)  Dr. Raphael Tsu, Distinguished Professor, UNC Charlotte  - Perspective on energy conversion  
6.)  Dr. Edwin Walker, BASF Endowed Professor of Chemistry, Southern University - Power the Planet
7.)  Dr. Rob Walters, Head of Solid State Devices Branch, Naval Rsearch Laboratory - Current Status of Research and Development in Photovoltaics  
8.) Dr. Saleem H. Zaidi, President, Gratings, Inc.  - Recent Trends in Photovoltaic Technology: Crystalline Silicon vs. Flexible Thin Films