Thursday, October 19, 2006

Solar Power Conference 2006 - Part 2 - Sharks in the Water

Let me start by plugging Sun Power... These guys are the class act of the solar industry, and yes, I'm saying that mostly because they've sponsored some great networking events this week and provided tons of free drinks and food, but also because they're really reaching out to the rest of the industry folks here. They have the most efficient solar cells on the market, and they're probably the most successful solar manufacturers in the world to date. Check them out.

This conference has been fascinating. Granted it's only my first one, but from what I hear, this seems like the beginning of something big. 5 years ago when this conference was first launched there were 50 people. Last year there were over 1,000, this year there are 6,000. As Martin Green, who conducts thin film solar cell research at the University of New South Wales in New Zealand said at the beginning of his speech this morning, "I have always described the solar industry in the United States as a slumbering giant... it's quite exciting to be here and witness the giant awakening."


The theme for the conference is "Sharks in the water." The overall scene features the environmentalists and technology geeks it's always had. But the consensus seems to be that the jump to 6,000 people is largely attributable to the big banks and investors who are here scoping out financial opportunities. It's a bit uncomfortable, and I'm glad I'm not a small solar business owner who has to worry about getting swallowed up by these sharks, but honestly, it's not a bad thing. The industry needs these folks to really grow.

Man, I'm so tired. More tomorrow, unless Sun Power keeps me out on the town again.


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