Friday, October 20, 2006

Solar Power Conference 2006 - Part 3 - Google and Schwarzeneger

The conference wrapped up today with Governor Schwarzeneger making an appearance to address the packed house. The speech was typical Ah-nold, but he got a huge standing ovation from the crowd, thanks to his signing of the California Solar Initiative last month to put $3.2 billion into the solar industry in California over the next ten years.

I was joking with some of the solar guys who have been with the industry through thick and thin over the years: "If someone came to you in 1990, and told you that someday the solar industry was going to be saved and championed by Arnold Schwarzeneger, would you have believed it?"

No, they wouldn't.

But nonetheless, here we are, looking at a great model for how to develop the solar industry worldwide, and a Hollywood body-builder-turned-Governor is to thank. Go figure.

The other big story of the week was Google. On Monday Google announced plans to put 1.6 Megawatts on their Bay Area headquarters - over 9,000 solar panels, enough to power 500 average California homes. Their headquarters is a 6-building facility, and they consume a ton of electricity, so even a system this big is only going to cover about a third of their overall demand. Still, a system on this kind of scale will pay for itself in energy savings in about 8 years, and the system will be warranted for 25, so it's a great financial investment for them.

Here's the Wall Street Journal write up.

This is the kind of stuff the industry needs. Staples has already put over 500 kw on their California Distribution Headquarters, and Whole Foods recently put 121 kw on their distribution center in Connecticut. The more we see high profile projects like these, the better.

In any case, lots of great stuff from the conference. But I decided I can write about all of it one idea at a time and string it out over a month, so why shoehorn it all in now? So whoever's out there reading this little blog, check back soon.


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