Solar Power 2005 Joins DOE’s Solar Decathlon

It seems like this year’s national solar energy conference Solar Power 2004 just wrapped up, but plans are already well underway for next year’s event taking place October 6-9 in the nation’s capitol. Co-organizers of the event the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expect the 2005 conference to build greatly on this year’s event since they have timed it to coincide with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2005 Solar Decathlon.

As it was in 2002, the Solar Decathlon will be held on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and will brings teams from 19 colleges and universities around the globe together to design, build, and demonstrate the advantages of a solar lifestyle. The decathlon serves as a living demonstration of the latest in energy efficiency and renewable energy designs and products. More than 100,000 visitors attended the first ten-day Solar Decathlon. While timing SolarPower 2005 with the Decathlon makes perfect sense to SEPA and SEIA, the DOE has also been instrumental in pushing to have the two events take place together because of a problem the department encountered at the first event. One of the stipulations for use of the National Mall is that there cannot be any advertising, according to Julia Judd, executive director of SEPA. What this meant back in 2002 was that when DOE staff members were asked for more information about certain solar products or applications, they were prohibited from providing answers. This time they’ll have an answer — Solar Power 2005, right next door at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Capitol Hill. The 2002 Decathlon turned out to be a well-attended and well-publicized event, and is expected to generate even more interest this second time around. In 2005, the event’s many visitors with an interest in finding solar solutions for their homes or businesses will be able to turn to the nearby national solar energy conference for more information. “The Decathlon gets so much visibility and media attention, I think this combination will be win, win, win, for everyone involved,” Judd said. “Together, the two events will spread the word that solar technologies are an important piece of the puzzle to meet today’s energy needs.” Next year’s event will include sessions on technology, finance, and policy; an expo featuring companies that manufacturer and install: modules, inverters, racking systems, batteries, web monitoring systems, and other system components; develop projects; conduct research; and develop and implement educational campaigns. There will be manufacturer training on solar products; product demonstrations including modules, inverters, racking systems, batteries, web monitoring systems, and other system components. The combination of the two events in the nation’s capitol could also help to highlight the need for additional federal support for renewable energy. While many U.S. states have offered considerable support for renewable energy, the federal government has done far less. “With RPSes now in place in PA, NJ, and MD and with DC’s expected to pass on December 21st, the mid-Atlantic has become the hottest solar market this side of the Atlantic,” said Rhone Resch, Executive Director of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “And with unprecedented exposure to Congress, the White House and other decision-makers in the federal government, Washington D.C. is the perfect city to showcase the technological and economic success of the solar industry.” SEPA and SEIA have reported multiple comments over the past two months that the 2004 conference in San Francisco had a direct influence on the pro-solar policies for California’s next legislative session, according to Judd. “We look forward to having a similar impact in 2005 both on federal and state levels,” Judd said. The 2004 conference, which took place in San Francisco, was deemed a major success by the many organizations involved. More than 1,150 people were registered attendees and thousands more visited the exhibit hall. Sixty companies exhibited at the event, while more than 120 experts gave presentations, participated on panels, or gave plenary addresses on topics related to policy, technology, and finance/business. The SolarPower 2005 Web site (see link below) is now active and offers more information. The preliminary agenda will be available Spring 2005, and the organizers are already taking applications for exhibitors.

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