The Promise of Solar Energy is Topic of Kurtz Lecture Oct. 11

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Solar energy will be the subject of the annual Kurtz Lecture to be delivered by Sarah Kurtz (no relation) of the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Room W10 of the John Pappajohn Business Building on the University of Iowa campus.

The UI College of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering organizes the annual Kurtz Lecture.

Titled "The Promise and Progress of Solar Energy," the free, public talk will provide an overview of the physics of how a solar cell works, multiple types of solar cells, and how the technology has dramatically evolved in recent years, both in the lab and in the marketplace.

Kurtz says that solar energy has the potential to run the world, and in some areas, it's beginning to be a major contributor to meeting energy needs. The amount of silicon used for manufacturing solar panels far surpasses that used for manufacturing computers and other microelectronics. Also, substantial effort has been placed on developing other photovoltaic materials with the goal of achieving lower costs. During the past two years, prices have dropped dramatically, further enabling growth of the market.

Kurtz earned her doctorate in 1985 from Harvard University and has worked since that time at NREL in Golden, Colo. She is best known for her contributions to solar cells development and for supporting the Concentrator Photovoltaic industry. Her work has been recognized with a jointly received Dan David Prize in 2007 and the Cherry Award in 2012. Currently, she is managing the Reliability Group at NREL and working to facilitate the growth of the photovoltaic industry through improved performance in the field.

Funded by an endowment from the Iowa power industry, the annual Kurtz Lecture is named for the late Edwin B. Kurtz, professor and head of the UI Electrical Engineering Department from 1929 to 1960. Kurtz was the architect of the world's first educational television station, directing experimental station W9XK in Iowa City during the 1930s.