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PV Solar “Energy” at Intersolar North America

No recession in evidence here.  Yesterday’s opening session of Intersolar North America was packed and full of energy. The solar trade show almost tripled its exhibition space and more than doubled the number of exhibitors from last year, when the first North America Intersolar show was also hosted in San Francisco.

Intersolar Show in San FranciscoAs far as I can tell, there won’t be any major news coming out of the conference and show. Intersolar’s growth and popularity shows that this is still a young industry and more and more people want to learn about the technology and products available–as well as participate in discussions about how to grow the industry and influence public policy. Organizers say that there are 17,700 registered attendees from 79 countries and 333 exhibitors from 23 countries.

The primary “news” is a continuation of increases in PV efficiency and the lowering of costs of production for equivalent units of electricity. It’s good news but not new news.

Keynote Address by Mayor Gavin Newsom

In this blog network, you’ve probably read posts furthering the friendly rivalry between the cities of San Francisco and Portland (and now Seattle). San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and mayors of these other progressive cities blog about their communities’ challenge to each other to be more green and to claim leadership in electric car usage, solar installations and more.

In his address yesterday at the opening session of the Intersolar conference, Gavin Newsom enumerated San Francisco’s accomplishments in reducing greenhouse gases, adopting green building standards and moving to renewable energy sources.

Newsom noted that some people were skeptical about the potential of frequently foggy San Francisco to adopt solar power but that public policy can overcome fog.

San Francisco has dramatically increased solar installations in the past year due to generous incentive payments and tax credits for both residents and businesses–not to mention help with permitting. As with many speakers at the conference so far, Newsom also discussed the job-creation potential of the PV solar industry, noting that Suntech (from China) established an office here, as did Trina Solar. San Francisco has an office in China specifically to recruit companies to open offices here.

And this brings me to the point of the bigger picture. San Francisco’s fewer than 1500 solar installations is not really going to affect our environmental or economic woes, and meeting the goal of 10,000 installations won’t be the answer either. Newsom (and the industry) have their eyes on much bigger sights/sites.

California Versus Arizona

For Newsom it is the governorship of California.  And another rivalry is underway. Numerous Arizona officials are at Intersolar to tout their new law providing both a refundable income tax credit and a property tax reduction for solar companies locating in Arizona. Perhaps it’s a good time to be a solar company.

Image courtesy of Bite Communications.

Written by Leah Edwards

A strategy and marketing consultant, Leah enjoys highlighting the efforts of, and providing information for, social entrepreneurs. In her consulting practice, she works with cause-related businesses and enlightened investors--to see people succeed at doing good for the planet and local communities while doing good for themselves.

Leah has a B.S. in business from UC Berkeley and an MBA and Certificate of Public Management from Stanford University. More information at


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