|By Business Wire||
|September 11, 2012 07:24 PM EDT||
Solar Power International 2012 (SPI ‘12) began its four-day run in Orlando last night with a dynamic panel of industry thought leaders stressing that now is the time for collaboration and cooperation to establish a level playing field to create a marketplace where all energy can compete including solar.
The executives examining “Growth in an Uncertain Market” were: Tom Doyle, CEO of NRG Solar; Jurgen Krehnke, Advisor to the Board of Management, SMA Solar Technology AG; Peter Marte, CEO, Hannah Solar; Nancy Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors; Eric Silagy, President, Florida Power & Light; and, Thomas Werner, President & CEO, SunPower Corporation.
The wide-ranging discussion explored renewable portfolio standards, net metering, regulation, storage, grassroots support for solar and the future of the investment tax credit. The executives agreed that it is imperative to establish a partnership between the industry and utilities, creating the necessary stability to make solar a larger share of our energy mix.
SPI, North America’s premier business-to-business event for professionals in solar energy, is presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). At the opening general session, SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm also stressed that achieving a substantial role for solar energy in America’s energy future requires a strong partnership culture, where collaboration exists not only between the electric utilities and solar installers but also with providers of other related technologies.
Hamm urged the “solar industry and the utility industry to invest in the development of a regulatory structure that allows for a new long-term, sustainable utility business model that encourages customers capable of installing solar to do so and rewards utilities that innovate and create a platform on which solar is fully leveraged for its strengths and which ensures the costs and benefits are fairly distributed.”
Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA, reported that the U.S. solar market had achieved its second best quarter in history having installed 742 megawatts of solar power, while the utility segment registered it best-ever quarter with 477 megawatts. Through Q2 2012, the U.S. now has 5,700 MWs of installed solar electric capacity, enough electricity to power nearly a million homes with a total projected 3.2 gigawatts of new installed solar for 2012.
“One of the biggest successes we have had in the last couple of years is the diversification of our market with over half of the states having more than 5MW of solar with the majority of the U.S. population living in states with more than 50MW installed.” Despite the market spike, he cautioned, the industry is facing challenges on the political and the regulatory front and SEIA is going to push back on the negative messaging on solar in key swing states.
Exhibitors cite benefits of SPI
With more than 900 exhibitors, this international event gathers a diverse audience to learn about new markets for solar, new products and technologies, and the issues and strategies that will guide the industry's growing emergence as an energy solution.
Commenting on SPI ’12’s value for marketing efforts, Jill Hansen, Americas Marketing Director for Canadian Solar, said that the gathering “provides us with an industry platform to showcase our latest product innovations and an opportune moment for a majority of our customers to mingle with our C-level executives.”
Wei-Tai Kwok vice president of Marketing for Suntech America, which is exhibiting at SPI for a fifth consecutive year, agreed, noting that: “Every year, SPI is one of the first events we schedule in our marketing plans, as it provides a unique opportunity to engage both our upstream and downstream partners from across the country.”
Conference program highlights
President Bill Clinton’s keynote address tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 12) on the challenges of globalization for the industry and the balancing of dependence on a variety of energy sources is another highlight of the extensive SPI conference program with 64 concurrent sessions, covering topics within six tracks: finance, grid integration, in the field, markets, policy and technology.
Attendees also are participating in workshops, photovoltaic (PV) technical training sessions, Solar Idea Swaps and tours of nearby state-of-the-art solar energy installations and manufacturing facilities including a solar PV panel manufacturing plant, two solar farms and the Convention Center’s rooftop installation.
SPI ’12 runs through Thursday, Sept. 13, and is sponsored by Terrawatt - SMA; Gigawatt - Hanwha Solar; Megawatt - Bechtel and Clean Power Finance; Kilowatt - ReneSola and SunWize.
About Solar Power International 2012 (SPI)
Presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), SPI ’12 is designed to serve and advance the solar power industry and draws industry professionals representing more than 100 countries. SPI ’12 takes place September 10 – 13 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. Registration, sponsorship, exhibitor and program information can be found at: www.solarpowerinternational.com.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,100 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org
The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) is an educational non-profit dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios for the benefit of the utility, its customers and the public good. With more than 1,000 utility and solar industry members, SEPA provides unbiased utility solar market intelligence, up-to-date information about technologies and business models, and peer-to-peer interaction. From hosting national events to utility strategies, SEPA helps utilities make smart solar decisions. For more information, visit www.solarelectricpower.org.