EPIA AGM: SMA’s Winfred Hoffman elected president and Suntech’s Stokes is VP

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The Chinese have suffered from a great deal of negative press lately; nonetheless Jerry Stokes from Suntech has been elected as one of eight directors on EPIA’s board. The elections, held at EPIA’s annual general meeting in Brussels saw SMA Solar Technology’s Dr. Winfried Hoffmann become president of the Association, having been originally elected as vice-president. However, the position had already been declined by vice-presidents Boris Klebensberger and Virgilio Navarro Sanchez-Sicilia.

Dr. Hoffmann replaces Ingmar Wilhelm of Enel Green Power and has spent more than 30 years working in the PV industry. He holds a Ph.D. in biophysics and in 1979 joined the photovoltaic R&D group for thin-film solar cells of NUKEM in 1979. He took over the company’s leadership in 1985. Dr. Hoffmann has also served as the chairman of the board of RWE SCHOTT Solar and as chief technology officer and vice president of the solar business group at Applied Materials, where he was later a consultant.

After his ascension to the EPIA presidency, Dr. Hoffmann said: “Solar PV has just had another record year — with more than 28 GW of new grid-connected capacity globally in 2011. Today the industry faces major challenges even as our technology approaches competitiveness with conventional electricity sources. In the coming years, we will need to work to create new markets and business models for PV. We will also need to make sure that European policymakers understand the importance of maintaining a stable regulatory environment and of markets based on principles of free and fair trade and fair competition principles. As EPIA’s new President, I look forward to addressing these challenges and helping guide our industry into an even brighter future.”

Stokes is the president of Suntech Europe. He has been active in the PV market for over 20 years, during which he has worked with both crystalline and thin-film technologies. He holds an honours degree in metallurgy from Brunel University in the UK, and apart from the solar industry has extensive experience in batteries and energy storages, fuel cells, industrial and building automation and new technology marketing.

The keynote speech at the EPIA Annual General Meeting was given by Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for energy, who saluted the PV industry for its impressive growth in recent years and called for regulatory stability in order to reassure investors in the technology. Commissioner Oettinger said that recent drastic changes to feed-in tariff schemes have created uncertainty across Europe.

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