​​​The first symposium in this series occurred in 1986. The twenty-third took place on September 5-7, 2022.

The Sde Boker Symposia on Solar Electricity Production were initiated in February 1986 by Prof. David Faiman, of the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The founding of the Symposia was directly related to the establishment of the National Solar Energy Center (NSEC) in November 1985, by the Israel Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.  The NSEC was meant to be a national test site for exploring the potentiality of solar electricity generation for Israel.  Ben-Gurion University had established the Applied Solar Calculation Unit (ASCU) several years earlier, and the occasion of dedicating the new solar center was seen as an opportunity to build on accumulated international knowledge and work towards the goal of introducing solar electricity generation in a serious manner in Israel.

Therefore, the first symposium was dedicated to bringing, to one venue, reports on the cumulative knowledge in the field, and helping define the tasks of the NSEC. One task was to be an independent test site for supplied information on the actual capabilities of the various forms of solar electricity-generating technologies under Negev conditions.  The second task was to coordinate a national research program which would stimulate progress.  Ben-Gurion University's ASCU was to try to coordinate and supervise the test program of the NSEC.

The Sde Boker symposia are unusual in that they combine solar-thermal and photovoltaic presentations in a single conference without parallel sessions. In this way, specialists from both disciplines are able to find out, at first hand, what is happening 'on the other side of the fence'.  For example, a solar-thermal specialist might be a great expert at solving the Navier-Stokes equations but may be only dimly aware of the existence of the Schroedinger equation, and vice-versa for a PV specialist.

Historical Review

Overseas key-note speakers at past Sde Boker Symposia have included, inter alia: F.C. Treble (Experience with PV pilot plants in Europe, 1988), V.V. Risser (Large PV systems in the USA, 1991) and M.M. Koltun  (Solar cell development in the Soviet space program, 1993) on PV systems; A. Rabl (High temperature solar thermal technologies, 1987), J.F. Kreider (Performance of parabolic trough solar power plants in the USA, 1988), S. Kaneff (Big dishes for concentrator PV and other purposes, 1994) and T. Mancini (Dish/Engine systems, 1997) on solar thermal systems; and R. Winston (Novel optical methods for increasing the power output of solar conversion systems, 1988), M. Graetzel (Nanocrystalline solar cells, 1994), K. Barnham (Quantum well solar cells, 1996), A. Luque (PV Concentration, 1997) and N.S. Sariciftci (Plastic solar cells for the 21st century, 1999), on some more fundamental developments.

The key-note speakers, again, representative of the multi-disciplinary range of our series, who participated in the Tenth symposium were: Dr. David Mills (University of Sydney, Australia) Solar electric power: Where do we go from here?, Dr. Frederik Leenders (ECOFYS, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS) Nieuwland: A Dutch city takes a photovoltaic leap into the 21st Century and Dr. Harald Ries (OEC, Munich, Germany) Getting the unexpected out of solar concentrators. For the 11th Symposium, we were honored by the lectures of: Prof. Aldo Steinfeld (ETH - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology  / Paul Scherrer Institute) Solar Thermal Production of Fuels - R&D Status and Future Prospects; and Dr. Alex Zunger (NREL) Defects in Photovoltaic Materials and the Origin of Failure to Dope Them. Our key-note speakers at the 12th Symposium were: Mr. Tullio Caselli (Escosolar,  Empoli, Italy) Solar Thermal Innovation in Italy, and Mr. Charles Whitaker (Endecon Engineering, CA, USA) PV Systems in the USA: Where they stand and where they should be going. Mr. Dov Raviv (MST Israel), presented a special invited lecture on A paradigm change in replacing fossil fuel with solar energy.

The interesting range of topics presented by our keynote speakers continued with the 13th Symposium, held in 2005: Dr. Ari Rabl (Armines/Ecoile des Mines, Paris, France) spoke on Environmental costs of fossil fuels and benefits of solar; and Dr. Leopold Summerer (European Space Agency, Noordwijk, The Netherlands) gave a view of the future with Solar Power from Space: current status and prospects. At the next symposium, the 14th in the series, in February 2007, Dr. Ulrich Bünger (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway), gave an overview of Hydrogen: from Myth to Reality.  The 14th Symposium also inaugurated a precedent – a workshop on a related item, in this instance Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), with keynote speaker Professor Susan Roaf of the Open University, Milton-Keynes, UK.

The 15th Symposium at Sde Boker was again with an enriched agenda.  The keynote speakers of the main event of the Symposium were Professor James Barber, of Imperial College, London, with a talk titled If the leaf can do it, we can do it; and Dr. George Servière, Électricité de France presenting France's electricity policy Nuclear Power – the French Experience.

The keynote speakers at the 16th Symposium, in February 2010, were: Ms. Francisca Rubio Berenguel, of the Spanish Test Center for Concentrator Photovoltaic Systems speaking about the "Latest Results" obtained at their test center; and Mr. Timothy Coutts, NREL USA, on the developing technology of Thin Film Photovoltaics: On Reaching Adolescence.  For the second time, the Symposium also hosted, as an integral part of its third day, a Workshop co-sponsored by the Ministry of National Infrastructures.  This open-to-the-public workshop was part of the research work carried out by Prof. Faiman with the International Energy Agency's Photovoltaic Specialists Programme – Task 8, "VLS-PV:  Very Large Scale Photovoltaic Power Plants".  We were proud to host Prof. Michael Grätzel, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federele de Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the "founders" of photovoltaics, and four members of the Task 8 working group.

The 17th Sde Boker Symposium on Solar Electricity Production, October 2011, hosted three key-note speakers of international renown. From Israel we had Prof. David Cahen of the Weizmann Institute, who, in his talk Basic limitations to 3rd generation PV performance, reviewed the state-of-the-art efficiencies of all present-day solar cell technologies, compared them with fundamental limits set by the underlying physics (in so much as this is known in the case of some of the more recent cell types) and indicated where significant improvements in efficiency are to be expected. From the UK came Dr. Ned Ekins-Daukes, head of the celebrated photovoltaic research team at London's Imperial College of Science and Technology. In his presentation, Nanostructures in high-efficiency photovoltaic cells, Dr. Ekins-Daukes reviewed the many ways in which nanotechnology was contributing to significant efficiency improvements in state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells. (Regular attendees at these symposia will recall the key-note address on this subject back in 1996, at the 7th Sde Boker Symposium, that was given by Professor Keith Barnham, the pioneer of this field.) Our third keynote speaker, Dr. Kenji Araki, of Daido Steel Corporation, Japan, gave a comprehensive review: Concentrator Photovoltaics: The State of the Art, which was extremely important, because Dr. Araki has been personally involved in the development of literally all aspects of CPV developments, be it cells, optics, mechanics, material degradation system performance, and many other aspects of these complex systems. And yet Dr. Araki's message was clear: There should be a sunny future for CPV.



Tables of Contents for the past Symposia

Below you will find copies of the Tables of Contents for the past Symposia. Back issues for most of the Symposium Proceedings are available for a nominal cost ($20), plus postage and packing.

The 23rd Sde Boker Symposium on Solar Electricity Production, September 5-7, 2022
23rd Symposium - Speakers' Presentations​ ; Photo Album​

22nd Sde Boker Symposium on Solar Electricity Production, September 24-25, 2019
22nd Symposium - Speaker's Presentations