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The Chilean Solar Energy Research Center, SERC Chile, is the local host of the joint International Solar Energy Society (ISES) Solar World Congress 2019 and International Energy Agency (IEA) Solar Heating and Cooling Programme’s 2019 Conference on Heating and Cooling for Buildings and Energy.
SERC Chile started it’s work in 2012 thanks to the support of CONICYT (Chilean National Research and Technological Commission), with the mission of developing a world-class solar energy research group with special emphasis on developing the potential of the Atacama Desert for solar energy applications. The operation started in 2013 with researchers from eight institutions: Universidad de Tarapacá, Universidad de Antofagasta, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Universidad de Chile, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de Concepción and Fraunhofer Chile.
Northern Chile in general, and the Atacama Desert, in particular, offers a huge potential for solar-based production of both: electrical and thermal power, and at the same time it is observed synergistic for using this energy in productive activities within the region. This region presents high irradiation levels, as well as exceptional clearness indexes, constituting one of the highest availability of solar energy on the earth’s surface. Even though within the last years over 2.5 GW of PV power has been installed and currently in operation, there still are significant barriers to realize the full potential of this resource. SERC Chile’s mission statement strives to overcome these barriers using a multidisciplinary scientific approach through four strategic focus: grid interconnection strategies; solar mining applications; new small to midscale production processes and the study of new materials. In order to address those strategic focus seven research lines are defined: Solar Water Treatment, Energy Systems, Material Science and Evaluation of the Solar Resources, Energy Storage, Power Electronics and Energy Conversion, Sustainable Development, Control of Systems and Industrial Processes. In that context, SERC’s basic premise is that Chile has the potential to become a worldwide player in the development of solar energy.
An external Advisory Board links SERC Chile with other institutions and recommends strategies to work jointly with public sector institutions, government representatives, private sector representatives and civil society in general. Since 2015 SERC Chile has initiated a Steering Committee whose mission is to aid the development of the center, strengthen its international presence, give support to the research teams and define strategic orientations towards the pursuit of its goals.
SERC Chile has a collaborative support network with over 50 other world institutions that include universities, research centers, associations, consortiums, and companies. The SERC Chile research team has consolidated networks and collaborative spaces that link its projects, publications, conferences, seminars and exchange programs with institutions of the highest scientific quality.
SERC Chile is creating new scientific knowledge; developing advanced human capacities in solar energy; advancing in solar education; interacting and informing both citizenry and public policy development and promoting technology transfer projects financed by public/private partnerships. As of today, SERC Chile has trained 30 PostDoctoral fellows, graduated 12 Ph.D., and 78 MSc. Currently, the research team is composed of more than 100 researchers, 44 Ph.D. Students, and 50 MSc Students. During the operation of the center 360 ISI papers have been published in high impact journals; and 33 books or book chapters. SERC’s researchers have active participation in outreach activities, such as seminars, conferences, press appearances, documentaries or visual documents, describing the work of the researchers, helping to increase the knowledge of solar energy processes in the community.