My two cents on Solar Power Expo 07´ (2nd penny)
It has taken me longer than I expected to get back to the comments on the Solar Power Conference and Expo – my apologies. It is a bit late now, but, anyhow, I thought I might as well wrap it up.
One of the booths where we stopped during our visit to the show was Schott´s, a company that provides the receivers for the solar troughs at Nevada Solar One and at some California solar plants. Schott is part of the Carl Zeiss Foundation and, besides their solar division, they are involved in a bit of everything, from the lenses for giant telescopes to advanced optical technology. They told us about their plans for expansion in the US, involving a new PV manufacturing facility that will increase their production by more than 60 MW. The new plant will also produce receivers for concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, a market where they sure have a lot of room to grow.
In the effort to drive costs down, different companies presented products looking to minimize installation procedures for solar installations, like Sharp, with their OnEnergy system. The idea is to go to turnkey or packaged solutions, making things easier for consumers and installers.
We had some interesting talks with the people from Borrego Solar and GroSolar, but for us, a must was a visit to the booth of Siliken, a Spanish manufacturer of solar modules that is seeing a tremendous growth in the last few years, boosted by the incentives in place in the Spanish solar markets and their ambitious attitude. The latest step in their expansion is the opening of a pv plant in California, for the manufacturing of the modules right here. Those plans are well under way, so I will be able to inform you more in detail as the project progresses.
The conferences were also packed, with people standing in the aisles and the back of the auditorium. We were particularly interested in the ones related with Concentrating solar power, where representatives from Solucar Power were among the panelists. Utility-scale projects using concentrating solar power (CSP) – or solar thermal – offer sun-drenched regions such as the US Southwest, Florida, Spain or Australia high levels of carbon-free power production to feed into the grid. And, to keep the buzz going, FPL announced a mega-deal with Ausra to build at least 1,000 MW of solar thermal plants in the next five years (with a view of reaching a goal of 1,500 MW in seven years).
Two next stops for the CSP industry are the World Solar Power Conference (24-25 October) and the Concentrated Power Summit (5-7 November), both in Seville, home to Europe´s first commercial CSP plant.
All in all, we saw a tremendous progress for the show. It started with an attendance of 1,100 people in 2004, a number that has jumped to around 11,000 visitors this year. Next year´s edition will take place in San Diego, with a view to triple this year´s exhibiting space.
The best way to summarize the mood in the air those days would be to the tune of George Harrison: “Here Comes the Sun”.