Renewable Energy has been a focus area in Europe and the United States for several decades and important collaborations have been established between research groups from both places. Most conferences today are hosted in both Europe and the USA tend to attract researchers from all over the world. Asia has in recent years intensified research within renewable energy and is becoming an equal player, but collaborations between research groups from East and West is still limited. There are of course numerous hurdles to be overcome, such as language and culture, but the fact is that energy is a world problem and development will probably occur faster if this geographical imbalance is removed. The balance is in place when as many European and American scientists travel to Asia to pursue their research career as a PhD student or as a post doc as are currently travelling from Asia to Europe and USA.

How should this problem be solved? Well first of all more co-arranged conferences should be organized in order to bring researchers from all three parts of the world closer together. Our group recently participated in arranging such a conference (GOPV 2011: Global Organic Photovoltaics) held in Hangzhou, China, with great success. 48 oral presentations, 114 participants from 18 countries helped make this a truely international conference where a broad insight from the different communities all over the world was achieved. The results presented spanned broadly from novel materials for high efficiency devises, to economical/financial modeling, advanced industrial processing methods, roll-to-roll processing, environmentally friendly processing, device physics, and fundamental studies like life cycle analysis, morphology, degradation and stability.

The fact that the conference was held in China leveled out some of the economic issues that inevitably occur when people has to travel long distances in order to get to a conference. Because of the relative low cost in China and most other Asian countries when it comes to food, hotels and other issues related to the organization of a conference, it was possible to maintain a high standard in all aspects throughout the conference while still keeping a moderate/low conference fee.

In my view we need more of such conferences in order to intensify knowledge sharing and establish new collaborations between Asia and the already established networks of research groups in Europe and USA. As for the GOPV 2012 it will be held in China again but with new organizers.

Roar Søndergaard