Solar Power International 2011

Dallas Texas
Oct. 17-20

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Quick Reflections:

I didn’t see it all or get it all in, but here is a glimpse of my experience trying to do just that. I hope you enjoy…

Shout out to Johnny Fabulous, Aunt Lucy, Uncle Jim, and Enphase for wonderful places to stay and great company!

People in solar come from all ages. Dusty Psaila is 16 and Bob Greene is 61.

With what felt like an infinite amount of important events happening concurrently each day and evening, picking where to be and what to attend was difficult.

I’ve been preaching ‘Solar Friends’ not Solar Competition, and Mark liked that. It felt more like Solar Family with a lot of the people I met.

It is so hard to walk the aisles and know what or who to let catch your attention and speak with. I never would have thought it would be so exhausting. “May I scan your badge?”

Regarding badge scans, it was cool to have a follow up email of everywhere you visited and their accompanying contact info the week after the show.

Being an international show meant a language barrier for me at some booths too.

Ran into several people from Pittsburgh at the show. Pittsburgh is awesome.

Getting to meet the people who you only knew from the other side an email, phone call, or tweet was amazing. You forget how important being in person is sometimes. I got a much better feeling about some of the companies I had been dealing with by meeting their people in person.

SolarWorld and several other manufactures filed a lawsuit against China during the show. That was big news. Tor did an article on it

The solar lift for taking modules up onto the roof was slick and I want one.

Surprised I didn’t find more ‘safety’ products. I would have liked to have spoke to someone about proper fall protection and have seen the latest and greatest. I hate steep roofs.

Thought there would be more of an environmental vibe, some talk of doom and gloom and conversations on climate issues. Maybe my ears were in the wrong place but most of what I heard was regarding the financial balance sheets of manufactures and if their warranties would hold up. That and who was having happy hour at their booth. SEIA wins that one with all the solar brewed beers!

BROCHURES AND SWAG

I felt guilty collecting printed materials at almost every booth, but have since gone back through them. Plus this kept Dad in the loop as we discussed the trip. I also go to share them at our SUNWPA (Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania) meeting for all the local installers to get a taste.

I’m sure everyone in the know picked up that RED BULL SOLAR book bag and said how much I want this!? He said it took a 20 page contract for him to keep one. Some redbull after race party has 400 guests and only 401 were made.

RACKING

Zep’s new racking system is slick.

Met the guy from Snap and Rack at Gilley’s and saw it on someone’s table but never got up and close

I plan to give Zilla a try this Spring.

We’re mostly UniRac and Quickmount PV guys.

Found out UniRac is owned by Hilti

DPW’s new MPM mount has a square box tube instead of pipe

Pounding Post hole stake/screws for ground mounts instead of pouring concrete was new to me, still wondering about those logistics.

Lots of flat roof mount quickie time saving installs stuff everywhere
Shout out to @Solar_PatBrown with Renusol racking

Word on the floor was that as module prices continue to fall, racking and labor is the next combo to follow

Before you know it, everything will be plug, play, snap and go with a built in enphase.

MODULES

LG is some talk of the town. Good modules and serious brand name recognition

SHARP had a HUGE booth and HUGE array. I still have a pallet of NU-U240F2’s to throw up before the snow flies.

I tried to mingle with the Solar World crew but they were packed with important looking meetings at every table, even before the press release. Got a tote bag though.

Thin Film Glass modules of every shade color and reflection were everywhere. I don’t know how efficient or price.

Cell colors. Very cool to know you can design with color in mind.

And the biggest solar module? Saw a giant 430 watt

Hanwha had an amazing booth. It reminded me of the SoCal Decathlon house, and then low and behold they had sponsored it. They had a bar set up inside making fancy drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and a band. Definitely very classy.

SOLAR THERMAL

Had some good conversation with the Callefi Guys

Heliodine were cool and had a nice setup.

One company had Evacuated tubes with Spirals in them and claims they’re 30% more efficient

Still looking for a nice simple web interface like Enphase Enlighten that will track everything in real time for thermal.

PRODUCTION:

The Robots are insane amazing. Got to watch them pick and spin modules. There was a demo with a wine glass with green water floating around on one conveyor. The golf machine was wild too. All of it gave me the feeling that a solar factory can be anywhere and be competitive. The human labor element is probably under 5% of the process.

CSP:

I regret not getting a CSP spiel from a pro there.

ENPHASE

Enphase easily would win ‘best in show’ if there was such an award for SPI. From the theater lighting, open booth design, private upstairs meeting area, constant unique booth events, interactive demos, smooth graphics, and knowledgeable, friendly, genuine staff, they nailed it!

I like the analogy I heard which two separate people there had claimed to coin, “Enphase is the Apple of Solar” Make that 3 because I’ve been saying that for awhile too. Not only do they make an amazing product, but they understand how to connect it to people. Enphase Enlighten allows solar energy systems to be more than just panels on a roof to someone, it makes it an interactive part of their daily lives, and gives them a relationship with their energy.

Lot’s of companies proudly displayed Enphase at their booth. And lots of them are getting integrated into the panels. Plug and play here we go…

And yes, I worked super hard to be nicknamed ‘The Solar Ninja” and bring home the title of “World’s Fastest Solar Installer”. Props to Dusty and the rest of the Solar-A-Team! The competition wouldn’t have been the same without them.

Cheers Solar Friends!

- Adam



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