Chicago is hosting the largest solar industry event in the U.S. this week, Solar Power International (SPI). The conference is being held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, where more than 700 exhibitors from more than 100 countries will show off their, solar wares, companies and solar offerings from October 21 to 24.
The annual event, now in its tenth year, is organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Stephen Miner, President and CEO of Solar Energy Trade Shows, said that the show will include more than 120 presentations with concurrent and general sessions discussing the solar industry and how to keep it vibrant in the future.
Ed Begley Jr., will be one of the event’s keynote speakers. Other notable speakers include Nat Kreamer, Clean Power Finance President and CEO; Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Steven Malnight, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Vice President; and Arno Harris, Recurrent Energy CEO.
Over the past year, the debate over net metering policies in states including California and Arizona has heated up, with some utilities trying to abandon or significantly reduce their net-metering programs as people become more interested in solar due to the benefits of such net-metering. As a result, several sessions will focus on this widely debated topic. In fact, Kreamer and Malnight will be speaking at a session that will explore the issue from both sides.
SPI has two major themes for this years event: addressing the solar industry as a whole, as well as the market in the U.S.; celebrating its first decade. As part of addressing the whole of the industry, the event will kick off with a discussion led by Dr. Cheryl Martin, Deputy Director of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Her primary goal is to help move breakthrough technologies from the lab to the marketplace, where they can be used.
New to the lineup this year is Startup Alley. Startup Alley lets new companies showcase their products and ideas to conference attendees. It’s also a juried segment of the show designed to give the companies a chance to see how what they’re working on is received by the business community, as well as whether they can attract investors with their ideas and designs.