The Evolution of Solar: 10 Years of Solar Pride in San Francisco

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Intersolar North America, a leading trade event that has grown alongside the solar industry

SAN FRANCISCO, May 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S solar industry has seen exponential growth over the past decade. Since 2007, photovoltaic (PV) solar installations have skyrocketed from 1,063 megawatts in 2007 to 14,762 megawatts in 2016. Intersolar North America has been there every step of the way and experienced a similar boom. More than 550 exhibitors and more than 18,000 visitors participated in Intersolar and ees North America in 2016, with an even larger crowd expected to attend in 2017.


Alongside the growth of Intersolar North America, a key driver of industry growth has been the declining cost of hardware. According to GTM Research, the cost of solar has fallen over 70 percent over the past decade, dropping from over $7 per watt to just over $1.5 per watt.

As the solar industry has evolved, discussions at Intersolar North America have also shifted. Attendees used to delve deeply into photovoltaic hardware costs, reduction and manufacturing efficiencies each July, but now conversations are shifting to soft costs, benefit analyses of competing battery technologies, the performance of emerging analytics platforms and other software-based solutions. Hardware is still a vital component to the event, and there is growth in many other sectors that answer the call to lower costs and become more competitive with fossil fuels.

To embrace the rise of energy storage and related technologies in the industry, Intersolar North America launched Electrical Energy Storage (ees) North America in 2015, a conference and exhibition dedicated to this emerging sector. ees North America is co-located with Intersolar North America and features additional exhibition space for smart renewable energy technologies and software solutions.

"Intersolar North America has been the established meeting place for solar professionals since the industry was just starting out," said Florian Wessendorf, managing director of Intersolar. "The U.S. solar industry has shifted focus from strictly photovoltaic technologies to include technologies like electric vehicle transportation and big data software. We're excited to see what lies ahead for both solar and Intersolar North America in the years to come."

Beyond technological innovation, the solar policy landscape has also changed significantly over the past decade. Ten years ago, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) was set to expire, removing all federal subsidies for solar. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 extended the subsidy for eight years and in 2015, there was a bipartisan push to extend the ITC until 2020. Since then, attention has shifted to the states, where net metering regulations are the center of the conversation.

Throughout the years, Intersolar North America has featured prominent political leaders to discuss the impact of regulation on the solar industry, from California Governor Jerry Brown to White House energy advisors. This year, Richard Kauffman, chairman of Energy and Finance for New York, will take the stage to discuss how New York is taking a leading role in developing the utility model of the future.

The evolution of the solar industry is also reflected in the growth of one of Intersolar North America's signature events, Solar Summerfest. Solar Summerfest started in 2010 to raise funds for event partner California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). The event has taken place at the Metreon each year to date. This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Intersolar North America and the 40th anniversary of CALSEIA, industry partners Intersolar and ees North America as well as SEMICON West will co-host California's largest-ever solar networking event, Solar Summerfest, at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Proceeds from the event will be donated to CALSEIA to support the organization's efforts advocating for solar adoption across the Golden State.

Over the next few years, hard and soft costs are expected to continue to drop, making solar increasingly cost-competitive as compared to conventional energy resources. Intersolar North America will continue to transform alongside the industry and bring attendees the latest information and ideas from the forefront of the solar industry.

This year's exhibition and conference will take place on July 10 through July 13 in the heart of San Francisco. Interested parties can register online now.

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