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MIT, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute form energy research center

The Center for Sustainable Energy Solutions at MIT will have $6 million in initial funding to research solar, building efficiency, and energy devices.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Fraunhofer Institute of Germany on Saturday signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint research facility in Massachusetts around sustainable energy.

The Center for Sustainable Energy Systems will have initial funding of $6 million--$5 million from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative state agency and $1 million from utility National Grid.

The center will focus its research on advanced solar modules and advanced materials for building energy efficiency, said Nol Browne, the managing director of the center.

Researchers will also work on building energy device prototypes, such as fuel cell membranes and solar modules.

Officials from MIT, Massachusetts, and Germany sign a memorandum of understanding to create the Center of Sustainable Energy Solutions reserach center at MIT. Martin LaMonica/CNET Networks

The MOU was signed by officials from MIT, the state of Massachusetts, and Germany at the MIT Energy Conference which started Friday.

Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at a press conference to announce the initiative. Spurred by supportive policies, Germany is the largest consumer of solar power in the world, with a number of leading solar-energy companies.

Ernest Moniz, the co-director of MIT's Energy Research Council, said the lab aligns with the university's initiative to develop clean-energy technologies and policies.

"Solar energy, in many ways, is the longest pole in the tent in addressing energy challenges," Moniz said.

Correction added to spelling of Nol Browne's name and full name of the center.