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Blog 9: An energizing trip to Germany (EUPV)

posted Sep 29, 2011, 7:33 PM by William Hong   [ updated Apr 8, 2012, 3:55 PM by Thomas Geissmann ]
(2011 - September 30)

Blogger: William
Journey: Euro trip to Germany through (Bankok, Copenhagen, Germany)

Our last adventure took us to a 2-week energy-learning marathon through the fields, mountains, and rails of Germany. This was all for the attendance to the biggest Photovoltaics Conference to date, the European Photovoltaics Conference or the EUPV. It was a great privilege to be in this conference. The lessons learned, experience gathered, and the sights seen are testimonies to the beauty of the journey of learning about energy.

The Conference

The EUPV is, for the PV experts, the biggest show on air when it comes to the latest technologies, trends and anything buzzing with the word PV or solar in it. Our Abe Research team, Abe Sensei, Mukai San, Ishio-San, went to participate in the event by presenting two of our researches and attending several sessions. With the gazillion academic presentations, industry booths, and poster sessions, we could finally say that the PV industry is really as big as the sun. 

I presented the recent works we completed at the DOE about Pangan-an Solar Project, renewables for off-grid rurals. We did it quite well actually. I felt quite happy to share what we learned about our community in the Philippines and it seemed several others were also inclined to that direction. I was approached by a Belgian researcher who really wanted to know more, since Belgium did donate the system. I must say though that the our rural community approach to RE diffusion is still a minority endeavor in that huge event simply because social research and community development isnt really the focus but rather technology and grid integration when it comes to PV. It clearly shows though that more focus and efforts need to be done for the communities out there needing light and energy.

There was also an industry exposition portion. There I bought a small solar windmill and got a free solar lamp from Mr.Christian Repky of I certainly will give their products a shot for the next  solar lantern projects. It was good to see that the PV industry is thriving. A lot of groups were working together, from manufacture, installers, researchers and policy makers. A noteworthy group would be PVPS (Photovoltaic Power Sytems Prgramme) where we met the glue that holds them together Mrs.Mary Brunisholz  the executive secretary. PVPS is a non-profit group attached with IEA where they have formed several tasks to pursue for PV technology involving several countries. I would like to become the PVPS contact in the Philippines someday. What do you think Ms.Mary? We also got to meet Ms.Virginia of PV Cycle, on of the select few groups that thinks about the future recycling of PV to date. Indeed, the industry is thriving and its a great time to start building a future career in this industry.

Energy Stops

After our 4-day conference, we then slowly headed south for some energy stops. In this leg of the trip, we would be visiting a couple of groups that dealt with community PV activities. Of course, occasional sight seeings accompanied the ride. 
First stop was Dessau. This place, not many know but once they realize that this was where modern minimalistic art was born, they begin to recognize the importance of this place. Here, we visited the famous BAUHAUS  where again, modern art was born and cultivated. They had a museum showcasing stuff 50 years old and yet are seen in todays markets and considered modern. Interesting.

Second stop was Dressden. A beautiful place, in fact, the most beautiful place we went to. Surreal surroundings as the buildings and streets were just full of culture in form of art and expression. Here we met a group called Local Agenda 21  which is actually part of a global network of groups pursuing sustainable development of their communities. Here we got to learn about the GBR (smallest unit of a business structure composed of about 1 or 3 persons) and Gmbh (with limited liability) which allows individuals or groups to establish a PV home system and trade energy in the grid. Because of the feed-in-tariff for renewable energy, this is possible and lucrative in Germany and some other places in Europe. That`s how they do it eh?

Third stop was Stuttgart. A younger crowd awaited us in this place. We stayed at a place called Badcanstratt. The first 3 letters there would pretty much summarize the hood-iness of the place. It was anyhow the closest spot to where we needed to go, the Academia de Diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart. This time, a religious group pursued the systematic dispersion of PV in their congregation`s buildings and areas. The rationale was, since the Christian institutions in Germany used up huge amounts of energy each year, it was reasonable and "God-sent" mission to go forth and multiply in a sustainable manner. Thus, Mr.Barwig was kind enough to enthusiastically explain to us all the details of their activities. They basically went with the GBR concept and did it in a parish based community or schools willing to participate in green production of energy. The following day we visited the another group pursuing community PV. This time their group was in a format of a cooperative, where about 300 or so members would put up funds to pursue rooftop installations and rentals for PV. Mr.Hugel and Mrs.Annet was kind enough to explain to us their works in that organization. 

Final stop before heading home, workshop with the boys at Universitat Stuttgart. A year back I met these Germans in Okinawa in a conference. These were the only Germans I knew then and they were like brothers to me. It felt great seeing them again, not to mention they were all PV experts. After all, we do have to explain to our funding group where we were, and of course, every step of the way has to be legitimately "business". So we hanged out a bit in their school and got to see their researches and rooftop installations. When the sun was done charging up the batteries, we went for a nice dinner and a few drinks to enjoy the beautiful city of Stuttgart.


The trip was amazingly filled with not only memories but also realizations which cannot be simply read in books. In the perspective of an energy researcher, Germany has really placed itself ahead of the pack in terms of technology development and integration to society. If we want to see to the future of our own countries in terms of energy supply and sustainability, Germany would be a good model to assimilate and learn from. PV technology is getting ever better as the industry pushes to the limits of the sun. Before I doubted about what PV would be. Now I know. Solar and PV technology would definitely be a sustainable energy source the whole world would greatly rely on in the near and far future.

until then,


At the EUPV Conference

Presenting our research

With a block of Silicon

PV Expo

 (William, Ishio, Mukai, Prof.Weda, Prof. Abe)

Local Agenda 21 (rooftop meeting)

PV Cycle group    

Stuttgart`s PV cooperative 

PV power monitoring module

Academie de Diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart

Beautiful Dressden

Stuttgart University friends for life.

Someday, all of our roofs would have these grey/black/blue-looking things 
which would provide for our energy needs. Someday.