Univ. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Pitz-Paal has been one of two directors heading the newly founded Institute of Solar Research since June 2011. His main research areas are the technical analysis and optimisation of concentrating solar power systems for generating electricity and producing fuel. A challenge he finds particularly exciting is that of coupled heat transfer problems involving radiation, convection, conduction and chemical reactions.
Pitz-Paal, born in Kleve in 1963, received his diploma in Physics in 1988 from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. In 1993 he obtained a PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Ruhr Universität Bochum with a doctoral thesis on concentrating solar technology. In the same year he moved to the German Aerospace Center in Cologne where he spent the following years working in various positions at the Energy Technology Division.
In 2002, Pitz-Paal was appointed as head of Solar Research at the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics in Stuttgart, and held the post of Deputy Director of the Institute from 2009 until 2010.
Since 2003 Pitz-Paal has been a professor for solar technology at RWTH Aachen. He also spent the summer semester of 2008 as a guest professor at the Institute of Energy Technology at ETH Zürich.
In 2017, he received the prestigious Farrington Daniels Award from the International Society for Solar Energy (ISES) for his leading role in the field of solar technology. Furthermore, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASME honored him several times for his scientific publications.
In 2006 and 2011, the DLR Executive Board awarded the Center of Excellence award to the Solar Research Department, led by Pitz-Paal, for their achievements. The EU Project HYDROSOL, in which the Solar Research Department was one of the four project partners, was honored in 2006 with the prestigious Descartes Prize of the European Commission.
Pitz-Paal has been Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Network SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems) of the International Energy Organization (IEA) since 2017. He is also on the board of the industrial association "German CSP" and in the executive committee of the European industry association ESTELA (European Solar Thermal Electricity Association). He is one of the two spokespersons in the research network "Flexible Energy Conversion" and leads the working group Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) together with an industry representative. Together with Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernhard Hoffschmidt, he also heads the Solar Thermal Power Plants Working Group of the Power Plant Technology NRW Competence Network.
As a globally recognized expert on CSP technology Pitz-Paal is a member of various German and international expert committees and editorial boards of specialist journals and is consulted on expert opinions on energy policy issues.