By the time you read this, I will have landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and be on my way to the Greentech Media’s Solar Summit, one of my favorite conferences of the year. I mark this one down on my calendar a year in advance and clear everything out of my way.
Why? Because all the heavy hitters are here to discuss the current state of the solar industry and it’s one of the most educational conferences I will attend all year. If you want to get the lowdown on what’s happening on the business side of the solar business, this is the place to be.
I’ll be posting a daily summary of the conference proceedings, and I’ll be live-tweeting the event at @SolarFrankA as it happens (starting at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT). But there are a few subjects on the agenda that immediately caught my attention because of their particular relevance to what’s happening in the industry today and what the near-term future holds:
Everyone is predicting that Texas is one of the solar bright spots in 2013, but I keep hearing there are potential barriers to widespread adoption. That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing Texas – Unlocking the Sun in the Lone Star State this afternoon (6:45 p.m. ET, 3:45 PT). I’m particularly interested in what our friend Mark Begert, executive vice president of Meridian Solar has to say. As one of the leading Texas solar installers (and No. 43 nationally), Meridian has its fingers on the pulse of Texas energy policy. Along with his fellow panelists, I can’t wait to see what they have to say.
On Tuesday morning, the focus turns global. Shayle Kann, vice president of research for GTM Research, is always worth the price of admission, and he will host the kickoff presentation GTM Research: Global Solar Market Trends (12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT). But here’s the one that made me sit up and take notice: Debate: Are PV Modules a Commodity? (2:30 ET, 11:30 PT). In the wake of the Chinese tariff decision last year, this is one of the critical questions facing the industry. When I know, you’ll know.
The afternoon breaks down into specific tracks, and I’ll be covering them both. Of particular interest to me are The Right Solution: Central Inverters vs. Distributed Optimization (7 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. PT) (see Yann Brandt’s excellent piece on this issue in the Commentary section below) and Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Effective Marketing for Solar (7:45 p.m. ET, 4:45 p.m. PT) (a cause The Solar Foundation helped immensely last week).
Wednesday is my getaway day (I have to go back to Cleveland for an important meeting on Thursday, and going west to east means leaving early — but not before I get to see two more fascinating presentations: Will Solar Leases Continue to Dominate the Residential Market? (12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT) (I must admit I can’t wait for this one) and Chinese Market Dynamics (2:30 ET, 11:30 PT) (again, an issue of great importance to the U.S. market).
As you can see, this conference is stacked with information, and I’ve just given you the highlights. Stay tuned to this space (and follow me @SolarFrankA) to feel as if you’re at this conference. You won’t be disappointed.