Sunday, October 22, 2006

Solar Power 2006 Conference

In terms of attendance, Solar Power 2006 in San Jose CA shattered records at ~ 6,000 people. And another 2,000 attended the free to the public evening expo on Tuesday. The conference attendance was up strikingly from around 2000 last year and under 500 four years ago.

Unfortunately for those of us attending, the conference facilities seemed sized for under 5,000 so most sessions and panels were standing room only (I missed getting a seat for two sessions that I arrived for exactly on time...sigh!)

Nevertheless the atmosphere was undeniably upbeat due in no small part to the recently passed California solar energy initiative, we were even treated to an unscheduled appearance and brief speech by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The Expo was impressive and busy! Many of the largest companies had up to a dozen representatives present and even at that lines of people (a couple deep) waiting to speak would form often. I was really surprised by the number of Chinese companies with booths at the expo. I had expected (and was not disappointed by) a strong showing from Japanese and German solar companies.

Meanwhile I received a warm reception to my 3D solar module design from several companies. I also received a friendly brush-off from a few (mostly foreign) that did not appear to have technically oriented reps available to speak. I will have to reserve judgment on the success of the endevour until I am able to chase down all of the leads I generated.

I was excited to see a number of start-up ventures that are pursuing small scale (i.e. not for utility/large industrials) CPV (Concentrating PV) designs of various types, since this seems like a sensible way to bring down the installed cost of solar energy in the mid-term. As far as I could tell my design was the only one that did not require sun-tracking or a whole new approach to installing panels.


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