Stories of inventors and their inventions: Adolf Goetzberger, a key pillar in the sustainable energy system.

This article was written by the IP Team of InnoEnergy

We all read stories about the innovators of today and how their products or services make a difference. In this series of publications, we shed light on a side that often remains in the dark and unknown to the public: their patented inventions and the impact they have had on other innovators across society. We did the research and summarised our findings.

Prof. Goetzberger spotted the potential of solar energy as a good alternative to fossil fuels as early as the 1970s and subsequently founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, which has today grown to be the largest institute of solar energy research in Europe, employing over 1300 employees. 

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Born in Munich, Germany, Prof. Adolf Goetzberger dedicated the initial years of his professional career to developing semi-conductor technology and electronic devices in the U.S, before returning to Germany to become the Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg. He has around 30 patents to his name including one on ‘Fluorescent planar collector concentrators for solar energy conversion’ which led him to win the European Inventor of the Year awarded by the EPO.

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During his professional life, Prof. Goetzberger has contributed, not only to the development of the ISE but also served as the president of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), as the president of the German Solar Energy Society (DGS) and also as a member of a high-level EU advisory council in 2004, where he helped devise the PV-TRAC vision report for 2030. 

He has also been the recipient of several awards including the J.J. Ebers Award from the American IEEE Electron Devices Society - for his exceptional technological achievements in the field of electronic components, the Medal of Merit from the state of Baden-Württemberg (1989), an honorary degree from Uppsala University (1995), the European Solar Prize and the Einstein Award (2006) - for his extensive scientific achievements as well as for founding the Fraunhofer ISE, and the Spirit of Energy prize and the ‘European Inventor of the Year’ in 2009.

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The solar industry has had tremendous growth, from when it started in the 70s with worldwide production that was at a mere 500 kilowatts then, to where it is today - around 505 gigawatts that are produced by 24 countries across the globe. Germany has grown to become home to the world’s largest solar PV market, all this, largely thanks to the continued efforts of Prof. Adolf Goetzberger.


The authors of the publications have used publicly available information only and no private information was handed to them by the innovators or third parties.


The IP team at InnoEnergy specializes in combining public sources and state of the art research tools, to provide our innovative member companies with business intelligence. In this case, the following sources were used:

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