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Optimism sets tone at Solar Power International 2012


The SPI 2012 team

Inspired by keynote speaker President Bill Clinton’s assertion that solar energy will be “keeping America at the head of the [future] business,” solar energy industry professionals who attended Solar Power International 2012 in Orlando, Florida, responded positively to the challenge of creating a “win-win outcome for all solar energy stakeholders” through creative cooperation.

Clinton told the enthusiastic crowd that, in addition to ramping up collaborative efforts across the industry, educating the public is critical to achieving widespread adoption of solar energy as a substantial component of renewable energy. He explained, "most people don't know that, in spite of economic adversity, government support and venture capital have catapulted the U.S. to lead clean energy investment in 2011. They don't know how much public-private cooperation there is.” He reassured the industry that “you are going to win the battle.”

More than 15,000 solar energy professionals representing 100+ countries gathered for North America’s largest and most comprehensive solar industry event to view first-hand new technology innovations and to meet and network with the 900+ exhibitors, including more than 200 first-time exhibitors, occupying nearly 300,000 square feet of space. SPI is presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

With the solar energy industry reporting that the second quarter of 2012 was the second largest quarter in history, there was “tremendous enthusiasm and vitality running through the entire solar industry value chain,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “We’re thrilled with the success of our first national event in the Southeast, where we are working to help open up new markets. With nearly three-quarters of attendees being decision-makers, every facet of the event—conferences, exhibits, tours, and general sessions — had a dynamic pulse that was reinforced by our announcement of significant industry growth.”

Key Highlights of SPI ‘12

  • CEO panel discussion explored renewable portfolio standards, net metering, regulation, storage, grassroots support for solar and the future of the investment tax credit. Panelists 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;
  • Introduction of 72-cell high efficiency modules, advanced inverters and energy storage solutions;
  • CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby named 2012 Utility CEO of the Year by SEPA for his leadership in integrating solar power into the company’s energy portfolio.
  • SEIA’s report of the Top 20 Corporations Using Solar for their operations included Walmart, Costco, Ikea, Johnson & Johnson, Kohl’s, General Motors, FedEx, Walgreen’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The top 20’s installations annually generate an estimated US$47.3 million worth of electricity.
  • The first Global Solar Summit, presented by Global Solar Alliance (GSA), bringing together worldwide industry leaders from the private and public sectors was announced; will be held in Milan, Italy, May 7-8, 2013.
  • Local solar facilities tours were heavily in demand by SPI ’12 attendees—Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) photovoltaic manufacturing facility of 400-watt series of mono-crystalline PV modules; 6-megawatt solar farm Stanton Solar Project at the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center; 1-megawatt rooftop PV system at the Orange County Convention Center.

“Collaboration for continued growth was a theme that set the tone for SPI ’12 that attendees heard from start to finish,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “The CEO panel at our opening session focused on how industry-wide cooperation—with the goal of achieving success for all—is critical to establishing a level playing field where solar can compete with all other sources of energy. President Clinton’s inspirational address reiterated that objective and then challenged the industry to fight for itself and take the necessary risks to achieve success.”

Exhibitors report that SPI ’12 delivered results. Microinverter technology company Enphase Energy, a five-year SPI exhibitor and three-year event sponsor, “looks forward to SPI every year to connect with our entire industry—from installers and integrators, to financers, policymakers and partners,” according to Marketing Director Heather Kernahan.“We gain significant return on investment from the time spent and relationships made there,” she added.

Misty Benham, Operations and Marketing Manager, Americas, Renewable Energy Corporation said, “since 2008, when REC entered the North American market, we have attended and exhibited at SPI to present our products and company to the industry. We consider SPI to be a premier platform to generate attention for new REC products and services, and an impactful place to present our brand in the market. It has continuously proven to be a wonderful place for REC to meet new partners and foster existing partnerships, and we look forward to participating again next year!”

View webcasts of the CEO panel and Resch and Hamm presentations during SPI ‘12. McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, will host Solar Power International 2013, October 21-24.
 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling

 

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