During Solar Power International 2010 (SPI 10), each afternoon there were more than eight concurrent conference sessions. It was not possible to attend them all, but the “The Next Great Solar Cell Material: What Technology Will Emerge Dominant on the Market?” session was particularly interesting. I briefly attended two other sessions. It was more than a little ironic that
It seems that the most important meetings at SunPower all take place in the Tiffany & Co. conference room. In fact, all the other conference rooms are named after significant SunPower installations—Nellis (14.2 MW), Bavaria One (10 MW), Moscone (675 kW), and Olivenza (18 MW).
Perhaps the high-quality, luxury jeweler,
The SunPower Foundation is working to “change the way the world is powered.” The Foundation supports on-the-ground installation projects for rural communities in places like Mexico and the Philippines, as well as curriculum development for schools.
The Solar Energy for Rural Electrification project in the Philippines has impacted
“2010 will be a day of reckoning for solar projects that have been announced,” said Mark McLanahan, CEO at Renewable Ventures, a Fotowatio company.
Five hundred bankers and solar executives speculated about the promise and pitfalls of implementing solar power projects at the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego last week.
Permitting the Biggest Challenge
Permit approval and securing financing dominated the two-and-a-half day meeting as the greatest obstacles to completing projects. A panel of venture capitalists agreed that in all cases, developing solar projects and technology consistently takes longer than expected.
According to Sven Strohband, partner with MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, this is because “materials science is hard, but not as hard as biology: We are trying to do something truly new, and solar investments require a lot of capital to go to market.”
During the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego, a large crowd learned that Chinese companies have cash and interest in the US solar energy market, yet partnerships require patience and low risk.
To explore the opportunities, R. Thomas Hoffmann, Partner with Ballard Spahr, led a panel with three experts on Chinese solar investing. They were:
- Jimmy Chuang, is with GCL Solar, the largest polysilicon producer in Asia and the largest solar developer in China. GCL has access to $4.5 billion.
- K. Scott Son, Vice President of Project Finance at Suntech, the largest producer of silicon PV in the world (nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2008).
- Sha Wang, Principal at Cybernaut Investment, a family company with US and Chinese roots and a $500 million solar investment fund.
Twenty-five solar industry and regulatory leaders shared data and forecast a positive future, especially for small-scale projects, at the third Solar Electric Utility Conference hosted by PHOTON International Thursday in San Francisco.
Smaller Is Better
Keynote speaker Pat Wood III, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and now with Wood3 Resources, summarized the dominant theme of the day. “As I was preparing my presentation, I was struck by the growth of ‘bite-sized’ solar projects and how that is an emerging trend and is based on solid economic data,” he said.