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October 3, 2008 

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Sherrard
(202) 994-1423;


Faculty Experts Will Examine Economic, Technical, and Policy Issues

WASHINGTON - The George Washington University announced today the establishment of the Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy, which will employ a multi-disciplinary approach to conducting research on the economic, technical, and public policy issues associated with developing and deploying solar power.  The institute, established within GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences through a combination of private, corporate, and foundation funds, will draw experts from several university departments and schools to provide independent, fact-based information and analysis for policy makers on how solar energy can help address the challenges of global energy supply and climate change.

The new institute will be led by international solar expert Ken Zweibel.  "There is a real sense of urgency about energy and environmental challenges," said Zweibel.  "The increased price of conventional energy suggests we actively consider the contribution of renewable energy alternatives.  GW's Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy will help contribute to that examination by focusing on energy from the sun, one of the few alternative sources capable of replacing terawatts of fossil fuel consumption."

GW President Steven Knapp said, "This new institute will draw on the expertise of our faculty and the advantages of our location in the heart of the public policy community.  Its creation illustrates the University's commitment to play a leading role in informing the national conversation on alternative sources of energy."

Rapid advances in solar technology combined with forward-looking energy policies have spurred the solar industry to a compound annual growth rate of 44 percent from 2002-2007.  According to media mogul and environmentalist Ted Turner, who also is a supporter of the institute, "Solar solutions are available today.  Given the rapid advances in solar technology and the associated reductions in the cost of solar energy, there is a need for current information and analysis for policy makers as they actively consider broad-reaching national energy policy issues."

"This institute gathers experts in many fields with a common interest to examine solar's possibilities, the roadblocks, the policy, and related issues," said Peg Barratt, dean of GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology.  "We're building the resources to provide trusted, scientifically sound information and analysis of solar energy to assist our nation's policy makers as they develop our country's energy policy."

Ken Zweibel has worked on the technical side of the solar business for almost 30 years and has delivered talks about solar energy around the world, most recently at the National Academy of Sciences in July.  He has developed solar technology for low-cost electricity at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado.  Zweibel then co-founded a solar power manufacturing company, PrimeStar Solar, in Golden, Co.  His interest has moved from solar development and manufacturing to informing people of the possibilities and solutions to global energy and environmental problems.

Zweibel has authored two books and numerous articles on solar energy, including "The Solar Grand Plan," published in the January 2008 edition of Scientific American, which publicizes the latest developments in science and technology across a broad range of fields.  The plan emphasizes large-scale solar arrays in the Southwestern part of the United States, with electricity transmitted around the country by low-loss, high-voltage transmission lines.  Solar energy also can supply the power to charge plug-in electric cars, helping to move the nation away from its dependence on fossil fuels. 

Located in the heart of the nation's capital, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821.  Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in Washington, D.C. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs.  Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

Ken Zweibel, Director, Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy
The George Washington University; 202-994-8433 office; 202-747-4963 cell

For more information about the Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy, visit
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