With a well-designed agenda, mostly engaging speakers, and overflow crowd, this event was a success. Of course, given my specific interests, I thought there would be more emphasis on data centers and potential energy savings, but nonetheless, it was a satisfying mix of emerging technologies, policies and predictions. With three sessions that had overlapping presentations, no one could get the entire scope of the content, and there was a lot to absorb and ponder after the event.
One of the most surprising statistics I learned is about PV solar panels. The size of the PV solar industry is already one half the size of the semiconductor industry in dollar value. Wow! that was quick, wasn't it? And this despite the change in prices for solar panels declined 50% between 2009 and 2008. So it is getting harder and harder to make those audacious claims as the price per unit drops at such a precipitous rate. Competition and innovation are the primary reasons for the drop in retail prices for solar panels.
Another interesting fact that emerged is that the fossil fuel industry as $550B in subsidies whereas renewables have only $50B in subsidies (annually, I think). Does that surprise you as well? The fossil fuel subsidies fly beneath the radar - they aren't on the front page of the newspaper business section as the ones for renewables are...this points to what readers consider "newsworthy".
The SmartGrid was a frequent topic of conversation. I think one of the speakers said that 50% of the American population is unfamiliar with the term SmartGrid, or was it 70%? Something unbelieveable to us in Silicon Valley and working on data centers.
Ralph Renne of Netapp and Mark Hydeman of Taylor Engineering spoke on a panel about Building Energy Efficiency Drivers, Regulations and Motivations. So our niche was well represented by those guys.
I was very impressed with the talk provided by Senator Maria Cantwell from the State of Washington. She authored the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act,which directs the Sec of the Treasury to establish a program to regulate the entry of fossil carbon into commerce in the US to promote renewable-energy jobs and economic growth. Her understanding of the importance of moving the economy off fossil fuel is very deep and her commitment to bipartisan collaboration on the topic were evident.
Thanks Bob Hines for pulling together the day in a flawless event. Have a green day!