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In a ceremony at the University of Delaware today, Dr. Richard Swanson, president emeritus and co-founder of SunPower Corporation, received the 2011 Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit.

This award recognises individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion of solar as an alternative source of energy through research, development or economic enterprise. The award consists of a bronze medal and $50,000 (USD).

Swanson is one of the world‘s most recognised leaders in the advancement of photovoltaics (PV) and a pioneer in commercialising cost-effective PV power systems. In 1985, he founded SunPower with the goal of commercialising large-scale PV power plants based on high-efficiency silicon solar cells. With a grant from venture capitalists, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the US Department of Energy(DOE), Swanson and his group developed silicon concentrator solar cells. His research also led to the development of new methods of studying the impact of large doping densities in semiconductors, and associated physical theories, that paved the way for optimised doping profiles in solar cells.

In 2006, Swanson was honored with the prestigious Becquerel Prize for Outstanding Merit in Photovoltaics and in 2002 he was presented with the William R. Cherry Award by the IEEE for outstanding contributions to the PV field. Most recently, Swanson was the recipient of the Economist‘s Energy and Environment Innovation Award for 2009.

The Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit, awarded every two years, honors Karl Wolfgang Boer, a distinguished professor emeritus of Physics and Solar Energy at the University of Delaware, founder of the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) and a distinguished scientist in the field of solar cells.

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