America’s largest solar show reflects continued growth of solar energy

Presented by Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Solar Power International 2010 will last till Oct. 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

As the premier U.S. event for the global solar energy market, the 2009 show broke all previous records and conference organizers expect the event this year to reflect the continued growth of the global solar energy market.

The U.S. solar market is exploding and is anticipated to become the largest market in the world. According to SEIA, the U.S. solar revenues grew 37 percent last year.

According to SEPA, market in the 10 utility service territories with the most solar grew by an astounding 66 percent. All signs indicate that 2010 will be another breakthrough year, creating a stronger solar market, tens of thousands of jobs and more clean, safe and reliable energy for the nation.

This year’s agenda features dynamic keynotes, including an address by James Carville and Mary Matalin, the highly anticipated annual CEO Panel, and more than 35 breakout sessions covering the latest developments in policy, finance, markets and technology.

The exhibit floor encompasses the complete range of solar energy technologies: photovoltaics, concentrating photovoltaics, concentrating solar power (also referred to as solar thermal electric), solar water heating, and space heating and cooling.

Networking opportunities abound in the bustling exhibit hall, opening reception and ever-popular Solar Block Party, this year at LA Live. Unlike other solar conferences and expos in the U.S., typically presented by for-profit entities, the proceeds from Solar Power International are reinvested by non-profit organizers SEPA and SEIA back into policy, research and education activities that support accelerated growth of the U.S. solar market.

"The U.S. solar industry weathered the broad economic challenges of 2009, growing revenue by 36 percent, expanding utility-scale capacity by 37 percent, and attracting 1.4 billion dollars in venture capital in 2009," said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO.

"Solar is now poised for record growth in 2010 and beyond. Professionals who want to take advantage of this escalating growth will once again find Solar Power International to be the critical connection point in North America for expanding their business. By learning how to navigate the ever-changing U.S. policy landscape and connecting with key leaders in the industry, attendees will gain new customers and revenue possibilities," Resch added.

Experts attending the conference are talking about the watershed moment for the world for the balance-of-systems (BOS) sector of the solar industry.

Modules are the glamorous hardware; they’re visible, made with quickly evolving technology, and can transform light into energy. Inverters are the muscle, making the connection to the grid with utility-grade performance and reliability.

Experts said electrical balance of system is traditionally a catchall, for good reason — it’s made up of a bunch of relatively small pieces that have traditionally been selected piecemeal. It’s important to remember, though, that including installation labor costs, BOS is fully twice as large a market as inverters. More importantly, BOS is full of opportunity for cost reductions — and that’s why a watershed may be at hand.

Besides exhibits, the Solar Power International’s Public Night is another attraction. In previous years, Public Night has been a popular event, drawing more than 5,000 people interested in learning about the latest solar technology.

This event, to be held on Wednesday night, is a unique opportunity for Southern Californians to learn about the many different ways of capturing and using solar energy, all under one roof.

"Our annual Public Night is an important part of our show program, since it’s one of our biggest opportunities to educate the public about the benefits of solar energy," said Brian Tully, executive director of Solar Energy Trade Shows.

"We hope people leave Public Night with ideas about how to get involved, whether it’s using solar energy for their home or business, or getting a job in the growing solar industry," Tully added.

Tuesday’s highlight included a Solar Idea Swaps, which is new this year. The sessions are designed to allow for small-scale networking and discussion among the conference attendees. Each hour-long session is facilitated by a subject matter expert, creating the opportunity for a lively, interactive group conversation.

The Solar Power Conference and Expo was created in 2004 when SEPA & SEIA joined together in partnership to create the first business-to-business solar conference and expo in the U.S. In 2008, the event was rebranded as Solar Power International to capture the true essence of the event.