With North America Smart Energy Week just two months away, eyes from both sides of the Atlantic – indeed every corner of earth, will once more be drawn to the US and to how the industry’s leaders can continue to progress not just in solar, but wider ‘clean energy’ technologies in the short, medium and longer-term.
Offering four days of unrivalled networking, educational and innovation opportunities, it is Salt Lake City’s turn to host the week’s flagship event, Solar Power International (SPI), welcoming circa. 20,000 professionals from across the energy industry, more than 700 manufacturers, service providers and vendors and a plethora of pioneering ideas from the industry’s sharpest minds.
Leading the way since 2013, SPI has come a long way in every meaning of the word since its initial appearance in the Midwest of Chicago, Illinois, and here at Concilium we are excited to make our first visit to the conference the whole of North America will be talking about. Particularly as our physical and metaphorical footprint in the region continues to expand.
As temperatures circle the 110°F mark in Arizona and peak at an unprecedented 105°F here at HQ in London, it is a rather pertinent time address the status of this, the most promising of ‘clean’ technologies.
Solar: The Industry as it Stands
It only takes a Google search for the effects of these consistently rising global temperatures to be displayed in the most evident of fashions. With habitats shrinking and an increasing number of natural disasters proving catastrophic, even for what were previously considered to be among the more stable regions on earth.
A primary challenge to the most pressing of contemporary issues – the question of energy – is the very nature of our escalating compensation of just that, and with it the dependence on more traditional forms of production, including fossil fuels.
Not looking to preach for its all-encompassing ability to save the planet, it is impossible, indeed dangerous, to ignore the monumental impact that solar power can offer. Nevertheless, of all the renewable technologies that are out there, why should solar be held in such high regard as the solution to turn to moving forward?
Well, at its simplest, power generators do not come more naturally, more reliably, than the sun.
The Solar Guarantee
Welcomed with open arms for the few months every year in which it shows at its fullest, the sun supports the earth and everything on it; without it, there would simply be no life.
Not just impeccably reliable, the sun – through means of solar radiation – also provides enough power to meet the entirety of our energy demands, from Hawaii to Hong Kong, Stockholm to Sydney. What is more, it is does this millions of times over.
Better still, the sun guarantees the above with zero risk to public health and global warming pollution. Furthermore, and for the politicians, business leaders and everyday consumers benefit alike, it presents itself as a cost-effective alternative with no risk to rising electricity prices.
In the words of the US Department of Energy,
“The power of the sun provides us with equal energy to that of all the planet’s more traditional sources, including coal, oil and gas combined.”
However, and despite the clear drivers for why we should be positive about the potential of this miracle of an energy source, we are not there yet; in fact, we are not even close. Yet, opportunities such as the one SPI presents on an annual basis for leaders – In this incredible field we are so fortunate to be a part of – to come together, converse and ultimately seek to change the future for our families and subsequently the generations to follow, are prospects we simply cannot underestimate.
More to do
Sure, it all sounds rosy thus far. So why do the question marks remain? Why do the delays in installation and incomplete promises continue to mean a cloud of doubt hovers over the industry, despite the mass political support we have seen of late? A great deal of that comes down to a limited number of factors, with some in- and others out of, our control.
Though cost-effective once in operation, the initial cost of installing a solar panel is not one that can be met by everyone. The required equipment (inverters, batteries and wiring etc.), coupled with the manpower and expertise to install modules effectively must be covered by someone.
Space and Appearance
When the importance of aesthetic comes into play, the demand for solar installations is not always maintained. The panels do not interfere with the skyline in the way a park of 220m turbines might. Nonetheless, there are limitations to where one can get away with installing a multi-megawatt plant.
Moreover, for the residential customer, there tends only to be a limited amount of space on the family home or garage to pack in enough solar panels to power the home and those nearby, particularly when the next factor comes into play.
Despite its power and as those of us who grew up in Northern Europe are all to aware of, the sun does not always shine bright. Cloudy and rainy days limit the panels’ efficiency, whilst nowhere does the bright ball in the sky show itself 24 hours a day. A promising technology in itself and one to be explored further, battery/energy storage systems can help with the latter, but the cost of their installation can further prohibit the benefits for some of their interconnection.
Far from perfect, the potential of this most natural of power generation sources is tremendous, and its size and promised growth in the US particularly is one that we would be foolish to ignore.
At Concilium, we work hard to position ourselves as thought leaders in each of our industries, and thus the benefits of: hearing pioneering speakers; of further expanding our network of industry professionals, and; of conveying the unique services we can offer can help tie everything together that has been addressed in the above.
For us, it is integral to meet with both prospective, developing and established clients, at each and every opportunity we have. This allows us to create and maintain effective and long-term business partnerships with individuals and companies who share our vision to make a lasting impact on the planet we all like to call our home.
Industrials Consultant Lewis will be attending Solar Power International with our COO Richard Ogbogbo.
Interested in learning more about our services at Concilium?
Richard and Lewis are welcoming meetings and introductions from fellow event attendees prior to and during the event.
Please feel free to reach out at:
Lewis.firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)7950 968 481
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