Recap: 3rd European American Solar Deployment Conference in Atlanta

Written by: Jonas Wendler

At the end of February, more precisely February 26 to 27, 2013, the sun was shining in Atlanta – not figuratively, but the 3rd European American Solar Deployment Conference was a big success.

The event, held at the Metro Atlanta Chamber and co-organized by OTTI, the Ostbayerisches Technologie-Transfer-Institut e.V., came to the Southern USA after two years in Boston.

PV-Rollout-Atlanta-2013-europe-america-team

The Team behind the PV Rollout Conference (l-r): Mr. Jonas Wendler and Ms. Alexandra Kaldrack from the GACC South, Mrs. Gabriele Struthoff-Müller, Ms. Franziska Smolarek and Mr. Bernd Porzelius from OTTI, as well as Ms. Julia Schulz from the GACC South.

The PV Rollout fostered and combined European experience and US market potential in the field of solar energy. The focus was especially on examining and overcoming technical, financial, and political hurdles to accelerate solar energy technology deployment in the US.

Highlights of the Conference

After a brief introduction by Eicke Weber of the Frauenhofer ISE, and Juris Kaleis, from American Capital Energy as well as representatives from the organizers, including GACC South President & CEO, Martina Stegmeier, the convention was kick started by Minh Le from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

Mr. Le gave an overview of the current initiatives by the US, containing, among other things, well-founded support for startups to foster innovation and risk-taking in the field and a task force for grid improvements. He further pointed out, that the non-hardware sector in solar, meaning policies and administrative barriers, is one of the most hindering factors in PV deployment.

Another highlight of the conference was the panel discussion “Deconflicting Integration” talking about future business models and utilities in PV. The panel, chaired by Eran Mahrer of the Solar Electric Power Association, lead to an active and in-depth discussion supporting knowledge sharing, as Mr. Mahrer forced the utility companies and solar development firms to swap roles in order to force a change of view.

On that panel Emily Felt from the Duke Energy Corporation made a nice remark about PV still being in its teenage phase needing guidance (right policies) and some hand holding by grid operators and other firms involved. Thus, giving the right signal is crucial for growth in the industry. Another point that was heavily discussed, was the consumer side wanting more choices just like cable television, leaving room for further improvement in that area.

PV-Rollout-Atlanta-2013-panel-discussion-solar-utilities

The panel discussion “Deconflicting Integration” talked about future business models and utilities in Photovoltaics.

Other speakers and presentations included, for instance, Mrs. Fatima Toor from Lux Research, Inc., talking about PV Innovation, Mr. Brian Wagner from Marteer & Harbert, P.A., pointing out common legal issues, or Mr. Mahesh Morjaria from First Solar discussing the role of utility-scale PV plants in grid stability and reliability.

In conclusion, it can be stated that the solar energy is at a very solid point with a steady growth, reaching competitive prices. Still, despite good looking market conditions and highly efficient technology there is a ways to go.

Ending this post, we, the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern US, Inc., want to thank OTTI, our organizational partner, the participants, all the speakers and panelists, as well as everybody that made this event such a great success.

We are looking forward to another round of the European American Solar Deployment Conference. If you feel like getting involved, or if you would like to participate, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you!

More pictures of the conference can be found here.

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