SolarTown attended the GW Solar Institute’s Fifth Annual Symposium. The theme of the symposium was “Going Global,” although the panel that we attended was more of a celebration of solar’s arrival on the world stage. Since the discussion had the feel of preaching to the choir, one solar advocate in the audience suggested that the Institute should have invited a few more skeptics to generate more lively discussion. Representatives of three powerhouses in the solar industry participated in the panel discussion. They represented the survivors in an industry that has seen considerable consolidation—meaning that a lot of companies have lost their shirts betting on solar. Some have sold their solar divisions, others have filed for bankruptcy. Survivors in the industry shakeout see opportunity. The panelists did not see the recent upheaval in the solar industry as anything “unnatural.” The industry is still at its infancy, and the recent industry shakeout is part of a natural business cycle. Solar still comprises less than 1% of the energy production in the U.S., despite huge growth in the industry. The opportunity lies ahead for those companies that survive.
Archive for the ‘Solar Events’ Category
Solar 2013, Baltimore. Today is the last day of the 42d annual ASES National Solar Conference. The conference may not have drawn the large crowds as in previous years—the field for solar and renewable conferences is getting crowded—but those who attended were treated to a heavy dose of solar policy, feed-in tariffs and installation guidance. One common theme at the conference was to learn from the experience of Germany, which has made tremendous strides that Germany to make solar and renewable a significant part of the energy output. This has also brought the cost down and between 2006-2012, the installed cost of solar systems in Germany has declined by a whopping 66%. Germany’s goal is to generate 30% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030, and it is well on its way to meet that goal.
Last Thursday we woke up early and headed to the Canon House Office buildings to attend the 15th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo + Forum. The exposition brought together various members of the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to debate US energy policy and present new products. Trade associations, policy analysts, businesses, government agencies and the general public attended the event for a unique networking and learning experience.
SolarTown went to a panel discussion at the Aid and International Development Forum held in Washington, DC earlier this week. The panel of policy analysts made a strong case for why we need to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, including solar energy, into our energy portfolio. Otherwise, by the time that we get around to using solar energy, we may have to rely on a lot more on solar arrays floating on water. While all the panelists agreed that solutions were desperately needed, they differed in their approach to how to address the challenges of global warming. As one panelist said during his presentation, “climate change is the largest scientific experiment in the world.”
We changed gears somewhat this week and attended the Sixth Annual Aid and International Development Forum (AIDF) being held here in Washington D.C. Some of the manufacturers whose products we represent at SolarTown such as Voltaic Systems with its solar bags and Sun Danzer with its solar refrigerators were there to show how their products have an important role to play in helping countries develop and saving lives. You don’t believe that solar fridges can keep critical medicines safe. Well, think again, as this solar vaccine refrigerator has been pre-qualified by the World Health Organization and has undergone rigorous testing. There are many other applications of solar energy to the developing world such as solar lights and solar battery chargers, which can provide a lifeline to those living off the grid throughout the world.
Natural gas, Chinese manufacturing and austerity programs were the themes at a solar symposium yesterday in the Nation’s Capital. The GW Solar Institute brought together teachers, students, policymakers and the president of SolarTown to take on the subject: “Solar Energy: A Path to Energy Significance.” No one seemed to suggest that it was going to get any less dull in the solar market in the coming year, but the forecasts were few and far between as the solar market continues with its fits and starts.
I know that you may have a heck of a time trying to give up with the jargon, and your Latin may be rusty since high school. One thing if for sure: the solar industry is hoping for a minor miracle that the cash grant program will be extended. The solar energy industry is still dependent on government incentives and the cash grant is the most effective of all of government support for the solar industry. The naysayers will roll their eyes: “Handouts are for losers,” they grumble. Tell that to every other energy industry that have received generous support over the years.
What do you do if you are protesting corporate greed in the Nation’s Capital and spending the night in McPherson Square? Do you fire up that old diesel generator that is going to contribute to global warming? Surely not, when there are solar energy alternatives. One of the protesters visited SolarTown’s offices.What solar power products do you have for me, she asked. Like a lot of customers who call us, she wanted to find out what solar energy products you can use off the grid. She purchased a portable solar shower—make that two, she said. It is sunny today in Washington, DC, but unseasonably cold. So if you want to see some protestors across from the White House bathing in warm water from a portable solar shower, you should get down to McPherson Square today. Dress warmly.
You think that the solar industry is just emerging. Well, you may be right, but don’t tell that to the people who have been on the solar home tours for the past 21 years. The 21st Annual Metro Washington, D.C. Tour of Slar and Green Homes took place this past weekend, and if you missed this solar home tour or the one in your area, then you missed out on seeing some of the vibrant solar homes that have taken the solar challenge. This year’s solar home tours, like the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall a week before, was not blessed with sunny weather, but that did not deter the spirits of those who wanted to check out the solar home panels, and solar water heater systems throughout the DC metro region. Despite the rain, solar homeowners were eager to show off their energy efficient houses and to show that, even when it is not sunny, their solar arrays help save on energy costs.
The Solar Decathlon is an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, in which students from around the world design, build and operate solar-powered and energy-efficient houses. The team with the house that best incorporates elements such as design excellence, affordability, customer appeal and maximum energy efficiency, wins the competition. The event is meant to educate both the public and the students involved in the project of energy and energy efficiency. The first day of the Solar Decathlon was rainy, which did not deter the visitors as they waited in line to visit each house and discover what made it so special. Fortunately, the rain did not dampen the spirits of the crowds and was no deterrent to this solar event.