Intersolar North America 2008 Summary – Part 2

Solar Industry

Solar Industry

Here’s part two of my wrap up of Intersolar North America 2008.  Obviously, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was covered at the conference, but these were some of the things that stuck out in my mind.  Also, I haven’t added anything about the exhibition – I spend quite a bit of time checking out the various exhibits and talking to people, but they were enforcing their “no photography” policy the day I was walking the floor, and frankly, there’s not much I could say here that isn’t on the exhibitor’s websites.

  • Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) – CST still enjoys cost advantages over PV, but these are shrinking rapidly.  As the price of concrete and steel continue to climb, this advantage will erode, and will quite likely disappear and then reverse in the next 5 to 10 years:
    • Solar Thermal systems can store their heat, they can produce more power output as needed and during peak demand, which makes this more attractive for utility scale solar.
    • As PV costs start to significantly fall, combined PV – Wind systems might start to look more attractive, see next point.
  • Meeting Peak Electrical Demand – Photovoltaic and Wind Power output compliments well.  As prices fall, proposals for blended systems might become more common.  See slide:
Wind and PV Power Output

Wind and PV Power Output

  • High Quality Development Land – Land use is becoming a bigger issue as flat, high solar irradiance land near transmission lines gets bought up.  The US Federal Bureau of Land Management tried to put a 2 year moratorium on new solar projects, and concerns about endangered species habitats and even flash flooding have put the breaks on some projects.
    • This hurts land inefficient applications like thin film, tracking PV and Tower Solar Thermal the most.

And finally, here are a couple more blog posts and articles covering the event.

Greentech Media has another slide show of the conference itself, and a short article on some of the other conference news items.  (If you look carefully in slide 3, I’m the green shoulder and hair visible behind the woman in the first row.)

In the San Francisco Examiner, a short summary article about the conference.  Short version of the article, it was an excellent conference, attendance was huge and if you’re at all interested in solar and can make it next year, go.

So, that’s basically it for now.  I will definitely go into more detail on some of these points in the future and am likely to cover other points raised that I didn’t mention here.

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