California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger checks out the latest in solar technologies at the Solar Power International conference.

Stepping Out with Solar Power

The impacts of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) extensions for renewable energy and the recent international economic downturn were hot topics last October at the Solar Power International conference in San Diego, California. Keynote speakers included California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who spoke about how California has led the nation in solar legislation and implementation, and General Wesley Clark, who focused on how energy independence will increase national security. John Jacobs, executive vice president of NASDAQ, discussed the current Wall Street predicament and the large rise in venture capital flowing into clean energy projects.

While each speaker had a unique perspective regarding the solar industry, all agreed that solar seems to be the bright spot in the economic crisis. With the passage of the federal ITC extensions, Rhone Resch, president of Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), pointed out that the solar industry is predicted to receive $320 billion of new economic investment and provide 440,000 new jobs.

These topics, among many others, were discussed over the four-day conference, considered by many in the solar industry to be North America's premier solar business event. Hosted by the Solar Electric Power Association and SEIA, and presented in conjunction with California Center for Sustainable Energy's Solar Energy Week, the event was attended by an estimated 23,000 people. The 425 exhibitors included solar manufacturing equipment and material suppliers, installers and system integrators, policy makers, and nonprofits.

The expo hall featured row after row of new international solar equipment manufacturers. And while all the sparkling, new PV modules and big-time utility-scale inverters were impressive, perhaps most striking were the booth setups themselves. Many solar businesses had multistory arrangements that allowed for temporary business offices to be set up on the upper levels for one-on-one meetings, while event-goers checked out product displays on the expo floor.

In addition to the expo hall, the conference offered many educational and networking opportunities to those working or interested in the solar industry, including pre-conference workshops, tours, conference sessions and CEO roundtable discussions, and even a downtown block party to celebrate the ITC extensions and overall massive solar industry growth.

With ITC extensions establish the United

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger checks out the latest in solar technologies at the Solar Power International conference.

This conference is intended to be primarily a business-to-business event, where solar energy professionals from across the globe strengthen existing business relationships and develop new ones. Everywhere you looked there were business meetings being held in every possible location, from meeting rooms and hallways to nearby restaurants.

The excitement this time surrounded "big" solar: commercial, industrial, and utility-scale systems. With ITC extensions now available to utilities, large-scale solar growth is poised to establish the United States as the new hot market now available to utilities, large-scale solar growth is poised to States as the new hot market for the global solar industry.

for the global solar industry. While the current economic crunch will likely slow down venture capital flowing to new projects, many in the solar industry see this as simply a short-term issue. In her closing speech, SPI chairwoman Julia Hamm challenged the solar industry to "be bold, be innovative, be strategic," advising collaboration between the solar industry and utilities to "turn this economic hardship into a silver lining."

The 2009 Solar Power International conference is scheduled to take place next October at a larger venue in San Jose, California, in hopes of being prepared for the growth in the solar industry that 2009 is predicted to bring. For more information, visit the Solar Power International Web site at

—Justine Sanchez

SolarWorld Opens Largest Cell Manufacturing Facility in North America

Hillsboro, Oregon—On October 17, 2008, SolarWorld USA opened a new cell manufacturing facility in Hillsboro that will ramp up to a 500-megawatt annual production capacity by 2011. More than $500 million will be invested in the new facility that houses both crystal growing and cell manufacturing equipment. SolarWorld's Vancouver, Washington, plant will continue crystal growth activities. The third SolarWorld U.S. plant, located in Camarillo, California, has been retooled and dedicated exclusively for photovoltaic module assembly.

In 2006, SolarWorld AG acquired the crystalline PV module manufacturing assets of Shell Solar, which had previously operated as Siemens Solar and Arco Solar, dating back to 1977. Today, SolarWorld's family of companies is dedicated exclusively to solar energy. The Hillsboro facility is a sign of the company's continued growth and investment in global PV supply.

"The Pacific Northwest possesses a hotbed of talent in both silicon manufacturing and clean technologies. Oregon is the obvious choice for where to undertake this new level of solar cell manufacturing," says SolarWorld's U.S. chief operations officer Boris Klebensberger.

As an Oregon-based business, Home Power is proud of the state's ongoing efforts to accelerate renewable energy use and equipment manufacturing. SolarWorld's move to Oregon was facilitated by the proactive efforts of Governor Ted Kulongoski, the Oregon Department of Energy, and the city of Hillsboro. Together, they created an environment that assisted SolarWorld's decision to open their new facility in Oregon, which will create high-tech jobs, and more PV for the U.S. and beyond.

—Joe Schwartz

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