“Go Solar, Baby, Go Solar!”

By Glenna Wisemansolarpowerintl_logo

The fifth annual Solar Power conference concluded last week, ending what most believe was an outstanding success for the show.  425 companies exhibited, with a waiting list of 450, explained Julia Hamm, executive direct of SEPA and chair of the event, in the opening day ceremonies.  She told the audience the event organizers are responding as fast as they can to booking space in advance for demand that is essentially doubling each year. 

 

With the extension of the Federal Investment Tax Credits for solar, the mood was jubilant.  Rhone Resch, president of SEIA, relived the exhausting 18 month journey the industry took to get the credits in place.  The legislature turned in a Hollywood style ending in its passage as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.   His retelling of the amazing collaborative effort presented a cathartic opportunity for the industry to take a deep breath, fully embody the triumph and now move onto the hard work yet to come.  In fact Resch reiterated a laundry list of objectives SEIA sees as critical to the growth of the solar industry.  Ending his speech, he recalled the recent “Drill Baby Drill” call of the oil industry, urging the industry to replace it with “Go Solar, Baby, Go Solar!”

 

Talking with veterans of the industry at large, several mentioned the show reminded them of the “dot com” rush.  Lots of investment bankers rooming the aisles looking for the next big idea, etc.  Described as the “solar rush” by some, the industry is indeed poised for heavy growth over the next decade. If this industry matures as most do, you will see consolidation in the ranks and those investing in solar power systems are wise to look to strong entities to supply panels.

 

Many believe solar to be the “right technology at the right time and place” as our country looks to green up its energy sources and free up the grip of foreign oil on our economy and national security interests. 

 

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger walked the show prior to its official opening.  “Of course we are now facing tough economic times, but that’s why we need to focus on solar and the environment,” he said as reported by TheStreet.com.

 

The environment and the economy are cental themes in Thomas Friedman’s new book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded.”  World-renowned author, journalist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Friedman focuses on the role of environmental efforts in his new book, seeing this strategy as central to our financial well-being, among critical benefits.  You can join his online group discussion at http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/.

Residential installation of Mitsubishi panels in Escondido, CA by HelioPower
Residential installation of Mitsubishi panels in Escondido, CA by HelioPower

 

As a first timer at the Solar Power event, I walked away with the palpable sense of the pivotal moment.  This industry stands at a major cross road. It is primed to go from “start up” to mid size, in the vernacular of the venture capitalist.  The Federal ITC paves 8 years of stability for investors.  Homeowners can now garner the 30% tax credit with no cap, previously extended only to commercial building owners.  Utilities and cities are stepping up to the plate with new and improved programs to fuel the solar revolution.  Legislature is pending on state levels to ease the way.  One of the most critical presidential elections in our country’s history looms 15 days away on a national level, with some states including Florida opening early voting now.  Clean energy policy has never been so emphatically requested of a new president as key to our economic and environmental well being.