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Posts Tagged ‘Solar Power International’

RFK Jr

Image: Solar Power International

I had the chance to interview Robert F. Kennedy Jr., this week after he gave an impassioned speech at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, Calif. As I wrote in The New York Times:

In a barn-burning speech Wednesday at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, Calif., Robert F. Kennedy Jr., sounded a bit like a green Gordon Gekko.

“We are in process of overthrowing the incumbents in a $1.3 trillion industry,” said Mr. Kennedy, a veteran environmental activist, in a full-throated attack on one of his longtime foes, the coal industry. “We are going to democratize the energy industry and take it away from the incumbents.”

This year, Mr. Kennedy joined VantagePoint Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley firm that specializes in green technology investments — including several with solar start-ups.

After his speech, Mr. Kennedy retired to a Starbucks to huddle with the chief executive of BrightSource Energy, a VantagePoint-backed solar power plant builder, and then sat down for an interview with Green Inc.

“There’s been a coalescence of interests between the environmental and business communities,” said Mr. Kennedy. “For me, fighting the bad guys has been a David and Goliath battle for many years, because they have all the money on their side. This changes the odds for us,” he said. “Now we have industry on our side. We have our own industry.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

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photo: Solar Power International

I spent the week at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, Calif., where some 22,000 people gathered for the industry’s biggest get-together in the United States. As I wrote in The New York Times, solar industry leaders are taking an aggressive new approach to pushing their agenda:

A solar industry leader smacked down the oil and coal industries on Tuesday, calling for renewable energy proponents to open their wallets to level the playing field in Washington.

“The full promise of solar power is being restrained by the tyranny of policies that protect our competitors, subsidize wealthy polluters and disadvantage green entrepreneurs,” said Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, according to prepared remarks for a speech he is to give at the opening of the Solar Power International conference.

The event, being held in Anaheim, Calif., is the solar industry’s biggest annual get-together in the United States, and is usually a celebration of the industry’s breakneck growth of recent years.

But Mr. Resch said that with the fossil fuel industry devoting tens of millions of dollars to defeat climate change legislation now before Congress, the solar industry needs to start throwing its weight around Washington.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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SAN DIEGO – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a surprise appearance at the solar industry’s annual confab Monday night, warning not to use the financial crisis as an excuse to abandon the fight against global warming.

“We should not give in to those who say environmental goals should take a back seat until the economy improves,” said Schwarzenegger, kicking off the Solar Power International conference. “That’s short-sighted thinking. Tough economic times mean we need more solar, more green jobs.”

The governator’s championing of solar energy through California’s million solar roofs initiative and its landmark global warming law has made Schwarzenegger something of a patron saint of the solar industry, and the audience was on its feet cheering the perma-tanned politician.

The solar power conference is a barometer of the industry’s growth. When Schwarzenegger last appeared at the conference in 2006, 6,000 attendees crammed the San Jose Convention center. This week an estimated 20,000 people have descended upon San Diego for the event. (For techies, think of it as the Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld rolled into one.)

The crowd was in a festive mood. Solar stocks were up dramatically Monday with the bounce back on Wall Street – First Solar (FSLR) spiked nearly 23% and Suntech (STP) rose 21% as was SunPower (SPWRA). And ten days ago Congress slipped into the financial bailout package an eight-year extension of a crucial 30% solar investment tax credit, lifted a $2,000 tax credit limit for homeowners who install solar arrays and allowed utilities to claim the investment tax credit for solar installations. “Imagine it took a financial rescue plan to get a tax credit for solar,” Schwarzenegger remarked.

The Republican governor used the occasion to champion California, as he is his wont, giving kudos to Southern California Edison (EIX) for the utility’s plans to install 250-megawatts’ worth of solar panels on warehouse roofs. “I can envision going up in a helicopter and up and down California and see no more warehouses without solar panels.”

“Solar is the future, it cannot be stopped,” he added.

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