Sep. 1, 2009 SDForum Solar

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On September 1, 2009 in San Francisco, SDForum and Astia held a Clean Tech Breakfast sponsored by Nixon Peabody and Moss Adams on ‘Innovation Opportunities Using Solar Technologies’. Bob Anderson of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Eugenia Corrales of SunModular, Steve Horne of SolFocus, Robert Horstmeyer of GrowthPoint Technology Partners, and Bob McDonald of Skyline Solar. The economic downturn has temporarily halted all sorts of investments but alternative energy continues to gain market share. Text from

Eugenia Corrales sees increasing efficiencies in cells and thin film could dominate the market. She sees opportunities for innovation in more efficient solar power management systems and battery storage. You must consider the true levelized cost of the unit over the life of its operation. If a solar panel with a tracker follows the sun, it will get more energy and save more money over time even though it may add fifty cents per watt initially. Text from

Tim Keating believes we are at peak oil and will probably use it until it is completely gone. He believes all energy is subsidized and you can shift those subsidies around to alternative sources. At the moment only one percent of the world’s energy is generated by solar. A hundred years from now most of the energy used during the day will be generated by solar. He sees opportunity in the smart grid, where utilities will gradually become the big pipe for power the way olld phone companies became pipes for the Internet. Of  course there are always opportunities conserve power. Most people in California are unaware that they pay rates similar to Germany or Japan, but also use more alternative sources than the rest of the country and therefore are more efficient and environmentally friendly. He credits PG&E with being out in front of the issue. Text from

Steve Horne agrees that small gains in efficiencies add up over time. Improvements in storage are great for any source. Text from

Robert Horstmeyer thinks that with global demand all sources will be used. Every source has advantages and disadvantages. Wind power has seen the greatest growth but has lots of moving parts and long term maintenance costs. Solar has higher up front installation costs but lower maintenance costs. Every residential roof is shaped different and that drives up installation costs. Concentrated solar is very competitive and requires lots of strong sunlight. Large arrays of panels out in the desert take up as much land as coal mine and are drawing the attention of environmentalists. Despite this, he sees solar achieving grid parity or cost competitiveness between solar and coal by 2013. The coal companies and utilities do not want you to know this. Germany and Spain have shown how “feed-in” policies encouraging people to build and then deliver power to the grid can build an alternative infrastructure that reduces costs over time. Text from

When the economy recovers so will the demand for energy. Those investing in alternative energy now will benefit later. Text from

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