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The Economistís Innovation Award for Energy and the Environment given to inventor of the point-contact solar cell, for pushing the boundaries in photovoltaic technology

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Anna-Louise Maloney
The Economist
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Hayley Raffill, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide

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Richard Swanson
Richard Swanson

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Come and meet the president and chief technology officer of SunPower Corporation, Richard Swanson, as he accepts an award at The Economist’s Innovation Awards Ceremony in London on October 29th.

  • The Economist is pleased to announce that Richard Swanson is the winner of The Economist’s Energy and Environment Innovation Award 2009 for his contribution to the development of highly efficient solar-cell technology. Solar power has grown by an average of 40% per year since the beginning of the decade, with global solar installations expanding from 600 MW in 2003 to nearly 3,000 MW in 2008, and Swanson has been instrumental in its development. His company SunPower researched methods of increasing the efficiency of solar cells whilst reducing the need for polycrystalline silicon, which is in short supply. As a result solar panels have a 19.3% conversion efficiency, the highest for a commercially available mass-produced solar panel. The technology is a great step towards achieving the US Department of Energy’s goal of growing conversion efficiency to 20% by 2020.

  • Richard Swanson, along with the other 2009 Award Winners, will be recognised for turning innovative ideas into reality at The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Awards Ceremony and Summit, held in London on October 29th & 30th. The Awards Ceremony takes place at London’s Science Museum on the night of October 29th and the Summit follows the day after at the Dorchester Hotel. This unique occasion is the only event of its kind focusing on the interface between innovation and business.

  • The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Summit provides an opportunity for delegates to meet the greatest thinkers and doers of this world in an inspirational setting, take away content relevant to their business and hear from the 2009 Innovation Award winners. The full programme includes speakers such as Dr Joseph Adelegan, President of Green Globe Trust Founder and Cows to Kilowatts Partnership, who is campaigning on issues of eco-efficiency, climate change, and eco-solutions and renewable energy in Africa. Adelegan will be joined by Dr Sergio Kapusta, Chief Scientist-Materials at Shell, who will be talking about the company’s work to help safely recover more of the world’s oil and gas from existing fields using some of the most innovative structures in energy exploration.

  • Journalists may request interviews and book a place at The Economist’s Eighth Annual Innovation Summit at The Dorchester on October 30th by contacting Hayley Raffill at Waggener Edstrom on +44 (0)207 632 3858, mobile +44(0)7813 346395 or e-mail hraffill@waggeneredstrom.com

Quotes

Winner Quote: Richard Swanson, SunPower Corp

  • When SunPower was founded almost a quarter century ago, solar was little more than a concept," said Richard Swanson, president and CTO of SunPower Corporation.  "Today, it is within reach of becoming mainstream throughout much of the world, and it is highly gratifying to be a part of this energy revolution.   SunPower has contributed to the phenomenal growth of solar, and I have been fortunate to work with extraordinary engineers to deliver, what is today, the planet's most powerful solar technology.  It is my extreme privilege to be recognised by The Economist and this innovation award."

Sponsor Quote: Dr Sergio Kapusta, Chief Scientist - Materials, Shell

  • “Congratulations to Richard Swanson on winning this Shell-sponsored award for innovation. At Shell we’re always striving to meet growing energy demand in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible, and that requires innovation at every level. Richard shows us that innovation is just as much about making incremental improvements to existing technology as it is about coming up with the next big idea.”

Judge Quote: Rinaldo Rinolfi, Executive Vice-president, Fiat Research

  • “Richard Swanson deserves The Economist’s Innovation Award because, starting from a deeper understanding of the solar cell physics, he developed a technological solution to improve the energy efficiency/cost ratio. Moreover, bringing his technology to the market is a fundamental contribution to the growth of solar photovoltaic renewable energy production.”

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This press release has been sent by Waggener Edstrom on behalf of The Economist’s Innovation Awards.

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About The Economist
(www.economist.com)
The Economist is published each Friday in the UK and is available from newsagents and on subscription. With four million readers from almost every country on the planet, and editorial offices on every continent, The Economist is truly a global publication. The paper includes sections on each international region, plus Science and Technology, Books and Arts, and the weekly obituary. The website, www.economist.com, offers complimentary online access (subject to terms and conditions) to content under one year old, in addition to extra audio-visual content. For profiles of our journalists, please visit www.economist.com/mediadirectory/ 

 

About The Economist Innovation Awards (www.economistinnovation.com)

The Economist was established in 1843 to take part in a "severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress". One of the chief ways in which intelligence presses forward is through innovation, which is now recognised as one of the most important contributors to economic growth. Innovation, in turn, depends on the creative individuals who dream up new ideas and turn them into reality. The Economist recognises these talented individuals through our annual Innovation Awards.

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