Presidents Column: February 2019

ISES Board to Meet for Annual Strategy Discussions

The 19 members of the ISES Board of Directors will soon be meeting in Freiburg, Germany to review plans for the Society’s 2019 activities and to hold strategic discussions on key programs the Society will undertake beyond 2019. As with previous years, Fraunhofer ISE is graciously hosting the meetings, which are being held on 14-16 March.


ISES’ work revolves around three broad activity areas: Programs, Outreach, and Operations. Although I am involved in all three of these areas, much of the work I do on behalf of ISES falls in the programmatic and outreach areas. Our Programs include our publications such as our Solar Energy Journal and the recent “Dispelling the Myths” document that can be found on our web site, our engagement with our numerous partners, our Conferences and Congresses, and our webinars. This year we will also be holding our second Renewable Transformation Challenge (RTC), a major grant that we, in collaboration with Elsevier award every two years to a company, institution or individual that are undertaking concrete steps to demonstrate how our core vision of 100% renewable energy can be achieved.


Major outreach activities of the Society are associated with our social media communications and our monthly Newsletter. ISES can be found on a variety of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube.  Besides our active members, ISES has a significant following through these platforms that allows us to get our announcements and messages to a broad and diverse audience.


Operations at ISES Headquarters represents the work being done by our dedicated and hardworking staff located at Villa Tannheim in Freiburg, Germany, headed up by our Executive Secretary, Jennifer McIntosh with support from Arabella Liehr, Liane Aziz, Monika Falkner, Eric Card, and Kiran Telekunta. Much of the Society’s income comes from the revenues of our Solar Energy Journal, membership dues, and conferences and Congresses. These funds support our staff which is instrumental in delivering the communications and outreach announcements to our members and stakeholders, organizing the webinars and other publications, managing the conferences, and maintaining Villa Tannheim, which is a historic building located in the outskirts of Freiburg that was a gift to the Society over a quarter of a century ago.


2019 will be an important transitional year for ISES. This will be an election year, and my last year as President, so we anticipate a number of changes in the Board leadership in 2020. We will also be undertaking a decision on where and when to hold SWC2021, and what further changes we feel will be necessary to our Congress structure in order for this to remain a compelling and financially viable event.


Consequently, as the Board reviews our activities in 2019, and approves an operating budget for the Society, it will also focus on setting the stage for the directions the Society will be moving in the next 3-5 years. One area in particular that will be given a lot of attention in our future program work will be to address the growing urgency for deploying renewable energy technologies for mitigating climate change. Over two thirds of all carbon emissions into the atmosphere are associated with energy production and consumption activities. We are now at the level of commercial success where we know that renewable energy technologies are now or will soon be the most cost-competitive way of meeting virtually all of our end use energy requirements. The urgency in transforming our energy system to renewables has already been clearly laid out by the scientific community, through reports such as those published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). However, generating the political will to establish the policies that will support this transformation, will require significant efforts to communicate the technical feasibility of 100% renewables to a broad range of stakeholders: decision makers, businesses and industry, and even the general public. ISES is well-positioned to provide these messages in a very compelling fashion.


So, our upcoming ISES Board Meeting will focus on how best to move forward with our existing activities and what new projects and programs we should be undertaking to help address the significant urgency for taking action on mitigating climate change. In the months ahead I will be reporting out to our membership in more detail what these activities will look like. And of course, I will welcome your feedback and your ideas for how ISES can help lead the renewable energy transformation that is occurring and accelerate this transformation to help address the urgency of climate change mitigation.


This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President