14 May 2012
A conference that for 41 years focused solely on solar broadens its focus this year. Once called the National Solar Conference, which was run by the American Solar Energy Society, has now teamed with the World Renewable Energy Network (WREN) and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society to bring WREF 2012 to Denver, Colorado (US) this week.
The truly global conference attracted participants from 60 nations who can choose from more than 200 parallel sessions on energy-efficient buildings, finance, policy, marketing, jobs, climate change, electric vehicles, grid integration resource assessment, gender, climate change and more.
The opening plenary session featured Conference Chair, Chuck Kutscher, Denver Deputy Mayor, Cara Kennedy, Conference Co-Chair, Ali Sayigh, ISESCO’s Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, US Senator Michael Bennet, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, ASES Chair David Hill. The keynote address was presented by NREL Director Dan Arvizu.
The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is located just 12 miles from Denver, and is considered the world’s leading renewable energy lab. Arvizu, who has led NREL for the past seven years, said “the global environmental value and virtues of energy efficiency are well understood.” He stated that our energy future demands that we address three challenges: security, economy, environment. He said we need to get away from the way we do things today and find a new trajectory. “Unless we can change the trajectory, electricity demand will grow faster than renewable energy generation.”
In the US, we have a highly regulated environment around energy, and “that is an issue we need to attack,” he noted. And we need to look at the technologies being put into place in terms of the time it takes to put it in the ground and operate it, which in some cases, such as nuclear, is measured in half centuries or more. “We need to think about our long lifecycle times.”
In terms of environment, he said that building innovation is key and he cited NREL’s sustainable buildings and practices as what is possible including a new research support building, built with private sector funds, that has a 2.5MW rooftop PV installation on a net-zero building. “It makes no sense to shove green electronics into inefficient buildings,” he said.
Moving forward is as much about the technology as it is about the market: market environment, market dynamics, the policies that drive the market, and how they all come together. Arvizu said we need to enable basic and applied clean energy technology innovation, we need to encourage collaboration in unique research and perform testing at “partnering” facilities. He emphasized that we can invent the future we desire, “it’s a matter of deciding what outcome we want.” A successful energy future will happen by changing our thought process and having a vision that is different from the past, engaging private sector support and partnering with our colleagues around the world.
The World Renewable Energy Forum continues through Thursday at the Colorado Convention Centre, which incidentally, has been generating 14% of its energy use through solar power since 2008. A 300kW array uses 1,310 230-Watt SunPower modules that were installed by Colorado-based Namaste Solar.
Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Solar Novus Today