A World Network for Solar R&D: ISES

Monica Oliphant

President International Solar Energy Society (ISES), International HQ,

Villa Tannheinn, Wiesentalstr. 50, 79115 Freiburg, Germany

In 1954, US solar visionary Professor Farrington Daniels attended a "Symposium on Wind and Solar Energy "in New Delhi, India. On a field trip he saw bullock – powered irrigation pumps that his wife, Olive, was to paint in oils. He often stated later that this was the picture that changed his life and led him to look at the role of solar energy in the service of humanity.

Not long after this experience, he, with others, formed the Association for Applied Solar Energy, AFASE, incorporated in Arizona, USA. In 1964 this became the Solar Energy Society and in 1971, the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) with the headquarters (HQ) in Melbourne, Australia. In 1995, the HQ moved to its current location in Freiburg, Germany.

Since its AFASE days and through the initial encouragement of Farrington Daniels, ISES has kept, as its major function, the importance of informing, and alerting the public to the need of demonstrating, and commercialising renewable sources of energy. Activities have been based on encouraging and fostering research in renewables, organizing congresses and publishing articles on the results of research in the society’s scientific journal, the highly rated "Solar Energy Journal" and popular magazines as well as external publications.

ISES is a membership society and our last survey showed that we have,

• Members in over 100 countries and in 50 sections round the world,

• Almost 70% of our members are scientists, engineers, architects and technical


In addition, ISES is a non-profit NGO accredited with the United Nations since 1973.

Power for the World by W. Palz

Copyright © 2011 by Pan Stanford Publishing Pte Ltd

www. panstanford. com




Figure 1. Farrington Daniels.


Figure 2. ISES HQ in Freiburg Germany.

Our vision is ‘‘A rapid transition to a renewable energy world". And our mission is, "To provide scientifically credible and up-to-date renewable energy and energy efficiency information and networking opportunities to the global communities of scien­tists, educators, practitioners, industries, policy makers and to the general public."

Being the sole international renewable energy organisation for many years can probably enable us to boast that for the first 30 or more years of our existence a high percentage of new solar energy research and development came from ISES members. In fact, since this is a book on the history of PV, it is pertinent to note that two other contributors — Professor Karl Boer and Professor Adolf Goetzberger have both played very important roles within ISES.

Professor Boer was instrumental in establishing the American Solar Energy Society, ASES, when the ISES HQ moved to Australia. He also instigated the Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award for significant contributions to the promotion of solar energy through scientific, development or economic enterprise — an award supported also by the University of Delaware and ISES. Recent Boer Award recipients from the field of PV include, Prof Adolf Goetzberger (Germany), Prof Martin Green (Australia), Prof Yoshihiro Hamakawa (Japan), Dr Lawrence Kazmerski (USA) and the 2009 recipient, Dr Hermann Scheer (Germany) whose involvement in establishing the German Renewable Energy Act has led to widespread growth of PV.

Professor Goetzberger has been involved with ISES and the German ISES Section (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Sonnenenergie) for over 30 years. Not only has he received the Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award for his outstand­ing work in PV, but he has held many positions within the ISES Board including being President from 1992 to 1993 and currently he is an Honorary Director.

Though ISES has always promoted all forms of renewable energy and our congresses still have papers representative of a broad range of renewable energy sources, we are now predominantly a Solar Energy Society. This has become more so in recent times as the range of renewable energy technologies have broadened and became more commercialized. As a result, each technology has formed its own association or society. This can only be seen as a positive devel­opment in that it shows that renewable energy has come of age and is moving into the mainstream of energy sources. However, recognising the need for the various technology groups to work co-operatively together, in 2004 ISES became a foundation member of the International Renewable Energy Alliance or REN- Alliance, together with the International Hydropower Association and the World Wind Energy Association. Since then, the REN Alliance has expanded and includes the International Geothermal Association, and the World Bio­energy Association. The REN Alliance was established to advance policy and information on renewable energy by providing a combined voice for renewable energy technology and practice.

As we move into the future, Solar Energy Research networking is the core strength of ISES. "The Solar Energy Journal" is a premier publication in the field with an ever-increasing impact factor and a new journal "Progress in Solar Energy", soon to be released, will provide in-depth technical review articles by leading experts in their field. ISES, through its unique network, is also instrumen­tal in fostering the application of renewable energy and has produced White Papers for the Developed and Developing World (translated into many lan­guages) and Pocket Reference Books on specific topics such as Solar, Wind and Passive House Design.

Recognising the need to encourage and increase the participation of Youth in Solar Energy, a Renewable Energy Research Exchange Programme is to be imple­mented in the near future and also a Young ISES initiative was launched in 2006 to create a network among students and young professionals in renewable energy.


Figure 3. Commercial Solar Food Processing.

ISES Congresses have always encouraged students to participate through reduced fees, and refereed papers and posters.

ISES facilitates and manages projects in developed and developing countries. In 2009, we completed a project on Solar Food Processing culminating with the organisation of the International Solar Food Processing Conference in Indore, India. This conference was the first of its kind to focus on solar food processing for commercial applications and income development, the focal point of the overall project. Also, as part of the European funded project PREA (Promoting Renewable Energy in Africa), ISES organised a series of workshops on sustainable architec­ture in South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda in 2006 and 2007. Projects such as these are examples of how ISES encourages and fosters information and know-how exchange and promotes good practices. In 2010, we will manage a UNEP project "Quality Criteria for Solar Resource Assessments".

In addition, ISES strives to build links between renewable energy research and industry, and significant effort is placed developing these links. ISES recog­nizes the importance of remaining relevant to industry and through its corporate membership the Society aims to create benefits and services that are mutually beneficial to both sectors

After years of planning, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was officially established in Bonn on 26 January 2009. Currently, 137 countries are members. ISES, together with the REN-Alliance has recently signed a MOU with IRENA to work together in order to speed up the utilization of renewable energy sources worldwide and the areas of cooperation and research will take advantage of our large network and research capabilities into the future.

Solar Energy is the greatest renewable energy resource available to humanity and mainstreaming its use and enlightening governments to ratify policies to enable large scale integration into the energy mix is a worthy a challenge for ISES and its membership. Many scientists and technologists are working to show that a strategic mix of renewable energy sources can and will provide reliable and clean power. As this book has shown the intellectual capacity of those working in the solar field is great, ISES aims to maintain its scientific and research affiliations with these in order to aid the transition from yesterday’s sunshine to today’s.


This article has drawn on information taken from "The Fifty-Year History of the International Solar Energy Society and its National Sections" edited by Karl W Boer. (See ISES web site Bookshop at www. ises. org.)

Monica Oliphant


Updated: August 21, 2015 — 3:32 am