Solar Power International Hits “The Windy City” Next Week

Next week, the editors, salespeople, video crew and other staff members will travel to Chicago to attend the 10th Annual Solar Power International, effectively turning the windy city to the solar city for five days of action-packed networking, educational opportunities, inspiration and more.  It couldn’t be more fitting that SPI hits the windy city in the same year that global solar installations are predicted to outpace global wind power installations for the first time in history. 

As always SPI is the perfect place for solar industry learning, socializing and deal-making. will be covering the show, blogging about educational session, conducting video interviews in Solar Central and meeting up with old friends.  Here are a few events that we plan to check out in the order that they take place:

1) Solar in the City Tour. Did you know that the largest urban solar installation is in Chicago? SunPower developed the 10-MW Exelon City Solar project on a brownfield in the West Pullman area of the city about three years ago. Completed in 2010, the project generates upwards of 14,000 MWh of electricity per year.  Next Monday, October 21, the Illinois Solar Energy Industries Association is offering free tours of the site.  Interested tour-goers should meet at the Millennium Park Welcome center. We’ll be sending an editor to check it out. Register for the tour here.  Tours run from 9-11 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m.

2) Professional Women in Solar Breakfast. Tuesday, October 22 at 8:30 a.m. This is one of the places to be if you are a woman who works in the solar industry. Network with other women who are navigating the unique challenges and opportunities that the solar industry affords women.  I’ll be there to cover the breakfast and will be conducting Solar on the Street video interviews with participants. Alas, the breakfast is sold out so if you don’t already have a ticket, but you want to network with other women in solar, then check out my fourth exciting event below.

3) Ed Begley, Jr., a man famous for his role as the alopecia-affected CEO of Bluth-rival company Sitwell Enterprises on the hit show Arrested Development also happens to be a bike-riding environmental advocate. He recently launched a new award-winning web series called On Begley Street that showcases how he built his net-zero home. Ed Begley, Jr. will be at the Solar Central booth (number 1343) at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday October 22 to discuss recent green projects and how Hollywood views solar power. 

4) Marketing Solar to Women Presentation. At 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday be sure to swing by Solar Central on the show floor in booth 1343 to hear marketing pros Raina Russo of #SolarChat and Glenna Wiseman of Identity3 present their findings from the first marketing survey directed to females. Women control 80 percent of the household budget, they remind us, so savvy marketers should learn how to reach them. Russo and Wiseman would like to gather as many women as possible for a group picture on the show floor right after their presentation. 

5) Start-Up Alley. One of SPI’s new features this year focuses on startup companies looking to enter the exciting solar industry. Nineteen solar startups won the opportunity to exhibit at SPI this year and each one will be presenting his/her company to a panel of judges made up of solar veterans on Wednesday afternoon from 1:30-3:00 p.m. The judges will then decide which company will be the official SPI Start-up Alley 2013 winner. will be conducting Solar on the Street Interviews at the Start-Up Alley booth (number 3650) on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

6) Tweet Up. Do you tweet about solar?  Then head over to the solar Tweet Up at SPI.  The event takes place Wednesday night from 8-10 p.m. and for the first time has sponsors. Microinverter company Enphase (@Enphase) and solar intstaller REC Solar (@RECSolar) decided to get in on the fun reserving a private room at Kitty O’Shea’s and providing an open bar and appetizers. Don’t forget to RSVP here. If you go, please thank them with a tweet.

7) The Role and Future of Solar Energy in Turkey. Come hear Ali Babacan, Prime Ministry Undersecretariat Of Treasury in Turkey give a speech about how his country is turning to solar energy to help power its future at Solar Central on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. Turkey has a great interest in solar power because, like other developing economies in the region, it is dependent on oil and natural gas from neighboring countries. Turkey also has excellent solar potential, among the highest in Europe, and its electrical needs are growing making the market an excellent opportunity for North American and global PV manufacturers and other stakeholders.   

Lead image: Chicago via Shutterstock

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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