SSI CEO Tony Clifford Arrives in a Green Cab

The stage at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles has been host to the Grammy, Emmys and ESPY award shows. Earlier this week, we had the rare treat of appearing on the stage there as part of Solar Power International 2010’s CEO roundtable (Tony Clifford, Standard Solar’s CEO even arrived in a green cab!). 

This cool, technically tricked-out venue seats 7,500, and the backstage “green room” included a delicious breakfast catered by Wolfgang Puck. But there were other benefits as well – like the opportunity to talk with other industry leaders participating in the roundtable, including the CFO of Trina Solar, the CEO of Solaria and the head of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. 

Throughout the week, we participated in meetings with module manufacturers about module purchases for 2011 and beyond. Of course, we are pushing for lower prices, but we’ll see how it plays out over the coming months. With much new manufacturing capacity coming online, we’re betting on price reductions in 2011.
SPI has become a HUGE event with more than 1,100 exhibitors on the 825,000-square-foot expo floor this year. The conference also featured 200 expert speakers, more than 35 breakout sessions and dozens of half‐ and full‐day educational training workshops. In fact, the show has become so big that the only cities with convention centers large enough to host it from now on are Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Orlando and New York. SPI will be in Dallas next year and Orlando the year after that. 

This year, many at the conference had the opportunity to talk with U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, who, while on stage right after he spoke at SPI, signed the authorization approving the first large-scale solar project to be built on public lands in the West. 

What did we take away from the event? We saw a cool new product: Solaria Corporation’s new optically enhanced solar module, which employs an optical front cover that provides a 2x concentration of sunlight onto strips on conventional silicon solar cells. This enables a 50% reduction in the amount of silicon cell material required, resulting in a significant cost reduction. The systems are currently designed for large-scale commercial and utility-scale systems, but our engineers will be investigating the product in the coming months. For more info go to http://www.solaria.com/index.html
 
We also attended a session – which was chaired by Cyrus Wadia of the White House – that compared the cost of residential solar in Germany to costs in the U.S. Needless to say, the benefits of scale are obvious in Germany in many ways. For example, the costs of permitting and utility interconnection are eight times higher in the U.S. than in Germany. We’ll be meeting with Cyrus in the coming weeks to discuss bringing German innovations here to help drive down the solar costs in the U.S. All in all, a great week in LA.