PHOTON?s 5th Solar Electric Utility Conference in San Francisco

As every day brings news about further utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects being announced, built or opened in the United States and Canada, PHOTON’s 5th Solar Electric Utility Conference in San Francisco, California, on Feb. 17, 2011 features North America’s leading experts from the solar industry, regulators, utilities and investors to discuss the impact and challenges of that unprecedented solar growth. With over 1 GW of large-scale solar power projects under construction and another 30 GW actively under development, the North American continent’s power sector appears poised for a radical remaking,« says Garrett Hering, chairman of the conference, organized by PHOTON – the world’s leading solar publisher.

But, unfortunately, gigawatts of solar projects under contract do not necessarily translate into multiple terawatt-hours of solar power actually feeding into the grid and providing electricity to millions of homes in North America,« says Hering. »Key issues such as locating the most appropriate sites for solar development, integrating large volumes of solar smoothly into the grid and financing the construction of such volumes all still have to be resolved, he adds.

PHOTON’s 5th Solar Electric Utility Conference in San Francisco will explore how major market participants plan to overcome these issues to realize the full potential of solar power in North America. In addition, the conference will examine solar power’s current and future impact on the traditional power-generation sector – from business opportunities to develop new revenue streams to economic challenges associated with both distributed and large-scale solar power.

Included among the major solar market players presenting at the conference are:

* First Solar Inc., leading thin-film PV panel maker and supplier of the world’s largest operational PV power plant in Ontario, Canada, and the world’s largest plant under construction in Arizona, USA.
* SunPower Corp., high-efficiency PV module producer and power plant provider, which recently issued the world’s first publicly rated bond to finance Europe’s largest solar project in Italy.
* Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which has more PV installed in its northern and central California service territory than any other utility in North America, and which has among the most large-scale solar under contract.
* CPS Energy, the public utility for San Antonio, Texas, which is one of the largest municipal buyers of solar power in the US, and which recently began purchases from the biggest solar project in Texas.
* Quanta Services, the leading specialty contractor to the US power industry, which is testing the limits of how low PV project pricing can go.
* Chadbourne & Park, a world-leading project finance law firm, which will discuss the latest trends in solar project financing.
* The California Public Utility Commission, the state’s energy regulator and overseer of the most aggressive solar programs in the US, such as the recently launched Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM).
* The California Independent System Operator, operator of the transmission system with the most solar power in North America, which is at the forefront of integrating renewable resources into the grid.
* Power Advisory, a consultant on solar project development, involved in creating the successful feed-in tariff in Ontario, Canada, which has become North America’s second-largest PV market after California.
* Rubenius, a Dubai-based developer of the largest energy storage project in the world – a planned 1 GW project in Mexico – using unique sodium sulphur (NaS) battery technology.

The 5th Solar Electric Utility Conference is part of PHOTON’s Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series, which takes place each year both in Europe and the United States. The event is organized by PHOTON – the world’s leading solar publisher – to provide a catalyst for in-depth discussions, analysis and action as solar technologies increase in scale and impact on global power generation. This year’s 3-day US conference takes place on Feb. 15-17, 2011, at the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center.

PHOTON USA Corp. is a San Francisco, California-based subsidiary of the PHOTON Group, the world’s leading PV publisher, which distributes magazines on PV power in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese. The PHOTON Group, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, also has offices in Berlin, Athens, Boston, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rome and San Francisco.