My two cents on Solar Power Expo 07´ (1st penny)

As promised, I will dwell a little on the things I saw at Solar Power Conference and Expo. First of all, it was incredibly crowded. In fact, so crowded that the hotel where I was supposed to be staying at told me they were sold out and did not have the room I´d reserved one month and a half ago !!! (I ended up in Cypress – 20 min. away; Incredible, to stick with publishable words…)

The lines for registration were a mile long on Tuesday. The Long Beach Convention Center, the venue for this year for the event is not too big (at least, compared to McCormick Center in Chicago, the venue I am most used to). The big booths were in the space in the Convention Center, but there was also exhibition space at the Hyatt hotel, contiguous to the Center.

Representatives from Southern California Edison and PG&E told us about the success of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) in the state. This $3 billion solar program launched in January includes rebates covering about half the cost of a typical $20,000-plus solar power system. Although the utilities gloated about the long lists of reservations, some installers and designers present at the show actually commented that the feed-in tariffs system prevalent in Germany and Spain present an advantage over the CSI: their simplicity.

The CSI process involves a set of requirements to boost efficient design that in practice reduce the paybacks (a bit because of the shade calculated for your system, a bit because of the estimated sunlight in your area…, etc.) and may increase uncertainty. Anyway, there is no denying that the program is an incredible boost to solar power in a state that already produces 70 of all US solar energy.

(to be continued…)

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