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Fei Lu – a photovoltaics pioneer

Fei Lu remembers it well: he went off to college in the Chinese city of Taizhou and the German government revised its Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) in 2004. Around the same time Chinese photovoltaic pioneers were returning from abroad and were setting up their first companies in China. “The press here at the time was talking about solar energy as the energy of the future,” Fei Lu recounts. “The photovoltaic industry was still taking its first steps, but it was called a ‘game changer’, an industry with huge potential.” That’s when Lu decided to work in this field. Today he is Vice President of Factory Services at the Photovoltaic Institute (PI) Berlin – and works from Shanghai with colleagues in Germany and the USA.

No other country produces and exports as many solar modules as China: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 60 percent of all solar panels installed worldwide are manufactured there. That is why PI Berlin created Fei Lu’s position at its Shanghai Branch last year. CEO Sven Lehmann founded PI Berlin AG in 2006 with Stefan Krauter and Paul Grunow. Today, the company’s 60 engineers and scientists advise manufacturers of photovoltaic power plants around the globe on planning, construction, and operations. Fei Lu coordinates the management of all services offered by the company. He also advises PI Berlin as senior technology consultant.

Fei Lu besitzt großes Interesse an neuer Technologie

The advantages of solar energy for the climate were not initially the main reason for his decision, Fei Lu explains. “As an engineer, I actually saw the potential and the possibilities of this new technology. There were a lot of interesting things to do: build new machines, develop new material, develop new concepts for the technology. I wanted to learn about a new subject and wanted to discover my own talents.”

However, Chinese universities hardly offered any courses on solar energy. So after graduating as an electrical engineer, he decided to go abroad. He gained his master’s degree in photovoltaic technology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He then worked at the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERIS) in Singapore. During this time, he spent three months as a visiting researcher at the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics in Halle.

Fei Lu soon reached the limits of scientific work: certain problems could not be solved this way. He decided on a more practical approach and began to work as a product developer at REC Solar in Singapore. He then moved back to China, where he worked as technology director at Jiangsu Linyang Energy. Fei Lu now owns more than ten patents on photovoltaic products.

In July 2020, he began working in his position in the twelve-member Shanghai Operation Team of PI Berlin. Fei Lu’s first impression is very positive: “I think PI Berlin operates on a very professional level”

Unlike his colleagues in Europe, he lives in China under very different dimensions than in Berlin: Shanghai is home to more than 20 million people. Fei Lu knows the city well. His hometown of Taizhou is about two hours away by car. “Shanghai is very modern and many young and active people live here,” he says. Life in Shanghai is very pleasant, but it is also expensive: “The costs of living are simply too high. Many young people have to work very hard because of that.”

Today Fei Lu also sees his work as an important contribution in the fight against climate change: “The world needs to generate one additional terawatt of solar power per year to win the race against climate change. The better the quality of solar power plants, the higher their energy output.” Leonie Düngefeld

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