An energetic crowd of hundreds of leaders throughout the solar community gathered yesterday in southern California to kick off SunShot’s four-day summit and generate ideas to tackle the grand challenge to make solar energy cost competitive in the United States by 2020.
Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim welcomed guests to the SunShot Summit and congratulated the industry on its progress to deploy more affordable solar energy nationwide. He also described how the City of Anaheim has embarked on numerous projects to install more solar on city buildings, including the Anaheim Convention Center. Following his opening remarks, guests networked at the SunShot Technology Forum, which features over 300 displays of SunShot-funded projects and the latest in solar energy hardware and software technologies.
Summit attendees heard from well-recognized solar thought leaders, including Ramamoorthy Ramesh, former SunShot Initiative director and now deputy director for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who remarked, “It’s all about the people” and stressed how the individual contributions of SunShot partners in industry and the research community are getting us closer to the SunShot goal.
Solar industry leader Raffi Garabedian of First Solar gave his unique perspectives on progress in utility-scale photovoltaics, highlighting growth in the industry and pointing out challenges to increased deployment, including solar soft costs, grid storage, and innovation needed in module design to increase performance and reduce cost. “Solar in 2020 won’t look anything like it looks like now,” he concluded.
Keynote speaker Billy Parish of Mosaic, named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company magazine, said “this is the rise of the collaborative economy…and the clean energy revolution will be crowdsourced.” He called on industry to “work with people to drive this industry from the bottom up.”
Rounding out the morning’s plenary session, representatives from NRG Solar, BrightSource Energy, DuPont, Arizona State University, and a former California public utility commissioner participated in a lively moderated panel conversation on the growth of solar and the future implications of that growth in the United States.