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The Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Award

Karl Boer with Awards

The Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit is awarded is awarded to an individual who has made significant pioneering contributions to solar energy conversion as an alternative source of energy through research, development, or economic enterprise, or to an individual who has made extraordinary valuable and enduring contribution to the fields of solar energy. The Award also contains a monetary part that was $40,000 at the beginning and has since 2011 increased to $60,000.

The Award was directed by Dr. Stanley I. Sandler, Henry B, Dupont Chaired Professor of Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering, (1992-6) Dr. Gerard Mangone, Chairman Center of Marine Policy, (1996-9), Dr. Robert Birkmire, Professor of Physics and Material Science, Director IEC (2000-09), Dr. George Hadjipanayis, Chairman Department of Physics and Astronomy (2010-2013) and is now under the dirction of Dr. Michael Klein, Dan Rich Chair of the Energy, Department of Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering (2014-).

The Candidate is suggested by a letter from the nominator and supported by six letters from experts in the field of the work of the candidate. The package of letters is then sent to the Awards Committee composed of the presidents of the International Solar Energy Society, the American Solar Energy Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Physical Society, the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers ,the Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the US Secretary of Energy, or their designated representatives, a representative of the Böer family, and the executive director of the trust.

The Karl W. Böer foundation is a 501(c) foundation managed by the treasurer of the University of Delaware with $380,000 original donation that has increased to $1.3MM by 2013.

The Award is given biannually in a two-day event, starting with a dinner given by Renate Böer for the Awardee and distinguished guests on the first day, followed by the presentation of the medal by Böer and the financial part of the Award in form of a check given by the president of the university and the presentation by the Awardee on his work that led to the Award. A black-tie dinner at the presidents home concludes the celebration.

The Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Award has become the most prestigious award for the global solar energy community. The proposed awardees have presently a waiting list for an average of five years.

The History of the Solar Energy Medal of Merit

Arthur Trabant and Karl W. Böer

Arthur Trabant, then President of the University, receives from Böer the first thin-film CdS/Cu2S solar Cell, produced in the Institute of Energy Conversion with an efficiency of 6.5%.

While on sabbatical at the Max-Planck Institute in Stuttgart, Karl Böer received a call from President Arthur Trabant, that the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware created a Solar Energy Award in Böer's name in recognition of the solar energy work he had done at the University of Delaware, specifically by designing and creating the Solar One House. After returning in September 1990, Böer accepted the honor, however, for the first award given only after his retirement expected in 1992.

The first Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Award

In its inaugural year, candidates for the Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit were originally nominated by a small number of members of the University faculty and by leaders in the American Solar Energy Society and the International Solar Energy Society. A unanimous decision was reached to nominate the former President Jimmy Carter, who was informed by David Roselle, former President of the University of Delaware. The date for the celebration was set for April 20, 1993. It was to follow an international conference on Solar Energy called by the president of ISES during the two days preceding the celebration.

Previous Medal Winners:


1993 – President Jimmy Carter (USA)

Jimmy Carter wins Böer Award

Former President Jimmy Carter receives the Award Medal from Böer and University of Delaware President David Roselle

Awarded to Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States of America, for focusing the Word’s attention on solar energy, with his installation of solar panels on the White House and his declaration that global solar energy conversion is serious and deserves broad based research, development and industry attention. He generated major US support for research and development in renewable energy conversion through NSF, SERI and DOE grants and contracts totaling almost $1B. Aside of the medal, the first Award included a $40,000 stipend.
(read more about President Jimmy Carter)

1995 – David E. Carlson (USA)

David Carlson wins Böer Award

Böer hands the Award Medal to David Carlson while President David Roselle and Stanley Sandler

For the discovery and commercial development of thin-film amorphous silicon cells for converting sunlight to electrical energy – with 5% efficiency – leading to commercial interest.
(read more about David Carlson)

1997 – Adolf Goetzberger (Germany)

Adolf Goetzberger wins Böer Award

Karl Böer congratulates Professor Götzberger

Who demonstrated with the first Solar PV/hydrogen House a self-contained operating system with energy storage und the use of hydrogen for heating and cooking as well as regenerating electric energy via fuel cells at night.
(read more about Adolf Goetzberger)

1999 – Stanford R. Ovshinsky (USA)

Stanford Ovshinsky wins Böer Award

Dr. Stanford Ovshinsky shown between Stan Sandler, Chairmen of the Böer Award Committee, and Böer

For the breakthrough in large scale Commercialization of his improved Amorphous Silicon solar cell with 12% efficiency and >15-year life expectancy.

2001 – Allen M. Barnett (USA)

Allen Barnett wins Böer Award

Böer congratulates Professor Allen Barnett

Who commercialized in large-scale production, with thin-slice, material saving, single crystal silicon solar cell panels with 18% efficiency demonstrating the first price breakthrough for private consumers.
(read more about Allen Barnett)

2003 – Martin A. Green (Australia)

Martin Green wins Böer Award

Professor Martin Green receives the Award from Böer

Who sets the World’s Record with 23.5% solar conversion efficiency, stimulates production for application with high solar energy conversion needs (outer space) and is extremely successful educator with books and some of his students becoming the wealthiest Si-entrepreneurs in China and the next generation Si-cell inventors.
(read more about Martin Green)

2005 – Yoshihiro Hamakawa (Japan)

Yoshihiro Hamakawa wins Böer Award

Böer hands the Award Medal to Professor Hamakawa

Who is the initiator and leader of the Sunshine Program that advances Japan to a leadership in PV. He also improved in his own research in the copper-indium-diarsenide solar cell in the top ranking of polycrystalline solar cells and made these competitive in the present solar cell market.
(read more about Yoshihiro Hamakawa)

2007 – Lawrence L. Kazmerski (USA)

Lawrence Kazmerski wins Böer Award

Böer is giving the Award Medal to Dr. Kazmerski

Who is a world authority and leader in progress analysis of every solar cell and panel for NREL’s certification of performance. He was the leader for selecting the government sponsorship of the most promising proposals.
(read more about Lawrence Kazmerski

2009 – Hermann Scheer (Germany)

Hermann Scheer wins Böer Award

Dr. Wolfgang Palz, Winner of the German Medal of Honor, and Dr. Hermann Scheer, Member of the German House of Representatives

Who, as member of the German Bundestag, was instrumental in introducing the 50 Eurocent tariff for PV-harvested electric power fed back into the Utility Grid that permitted Germany to become the world leader with 40% electric power from solar. His initiative spread rapidly to many European countries to adopt a similar feed-in tariff.
(read more about Hermann Sheer)

2011 – Richard M. Swanson (USA)

Richard Swanson wins Böer Award

Böer congratulates Prof. Richard Swanson for receiving the Böer Award Medal while President Harker looks on

A Stanford professor, who is the inventor of the Si-single crystal solar cells with all contacts moved from the sun side to the back of the cell, improving the conversion efficiency by more than 2% and the life expectancy to a century.
(read more about Richard Swanson)

2013 – Professor Zhores Alferov, Nobel Laureate, and Professor Vlacheslav Andreev (Russia)

Zhores Alferov and Vlacheslav Andreev win the Böer Award

Böer with his wife Renate behind him; second row standing: Viacheslav Andreev, Zhores Alferof, Dave Renee, President of ISES, George Hadjipanayis and Bob Birkmire, both former directors of the Böer Award

who invented and further developed multi-layer poly-crystalline III/V solar cells that, on top of each other, converted additional parts of the polychromatic sunlight and herewith increased substantially the use of the solar spectrum to convert it into electric power.

2015 – Professor Antonio Luque (Spain)

Zhores Alferov and Vlacheslav Andreev win the Böer Award

Professor Antonio Luque, Director of the Institute of Solar Energy of the Technical University of Madrid, Spain

For his invention of the intermediate band solar cell, which raises the theoretical solar efficiency limit up to 63 percent. He also invented the bifacial silicon solar cell, which is active on both sides to collect both direct and reflected light equally high with much improved efficiency.