News Release: NREL Recognizes Solar Pioneer with National Honor

Nov. 23, 2004 | By Sarah Barba | Contact media relations

Golden, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has presented the 2004 Paul Rappaport Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Award to Robert "Bud" Annan, who oversaw government-sponsored research into solar energy for more than 20 years.

Annan is credited with conceiving and directing research programs that have produced major improvements in solar energy technologies, and for encouraging public policies that are moving those technologies into the mainstream of American life.

"Bud Annan has long been a driving force for solar energy," NREL Director Richard Truly said. "He nurtured solar electric technologies from a time when they were little-known and prohibitively expensive, into the fast-growing, dynamic industry we see today."

This year's Rappaport Award was presented to Annan by Director Truly at an event in Denver Tuesday. The event also featured remarks by Dr. Michael Nobel, chairman of the Nobel Family Society, on the history and significance of the Nobel Awards.

Annan's first involvement with photovoltaic (PV) technologies – which produce electricity directly from sunlight – was in 1975, prior to the creation of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He subsequently led DOE's solar research efforts until his retirement from the agency in 1996. His strong legacy of support for solar energy research contributes to the successes NREL and other research institutions enjoy to this day.

"It has been my great fortune to be surrounded by talented, committed people all dedicated to Dr. Rappaport's solar vision," Annan said. "This same talent and commitment are now evident in Arizona and throughout the Southwest, making solar a market reality."

The breakthroughs in solar research that marked Annan's tenure at DOE were essential to the 80-percent reduction in solar energy costs achieved over the same period. Many of those same technologies are helping today's PV industry grow at more than 20 percent annually.

Since his retirement from DOE, Annan has relocated to Scottsdale, Ariz., and worked diligently in support of innovative public policy initiatives that are increasing the contributions solar energy is making in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and California.

William Mundell, member of the Arizona Corporate Commission, praised Annan's selection for the renewable energy award, saying, "Bud Annan has been, and continues to be, the champion behind the evolution of solar energy in Arizona."

Dr. Paul Rappaport served as NREL's director from the Laboratory's inception in April 1977 through August 1979. Before his NREL appointment, Dr. Rappaport worked for more than 25 years at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Laboratories. A pioneer in his field, Dr. Rapppaport made many contributions to the advancement of early photovoltaic technologies. Dr. Rappaport died in 1980.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.