Approximately 13,000 energized solar industry professionals packed McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, for Solar Power International 2013 (SPI ‘13) October 21-24. The energy was palpable as the show welcomed significant crowds from the Midwest, the largest first-time attendance in years and record-breaking attendance in conference program sessions.
SPI is the most comprehensive conference and trade show for the worldwide solar power industry and serves as the global marketplace for the industry. A busy schedule that included a unique General Session format, the inaugural competition of emerging companies in the brand-new Start-Up Alley, a whole slate of concurrent conference sessions, and a packed slate of exhibition activities made for four days of concentrated value.
The event, which is co-owned by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), had an estimated $35.5 million economic impact on the Chicago area.
Knowledge and information seemed to be found at every turn of host center McCormick Place, including the exhibition floor, where the latest industry technology and innovations could be found. Epitomizing the industry’s spirit of innovation was Start-Up Alley, a section of start-up companies that were given the opportunity to attend SPI and take part in a competition to determine the most promising business concepts.
Information also flowed elsewhere on the exhibition floor, from the Solar Central section to the Industry Trends booth (home of presentations and data from GTM Research and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, as well as SEPA and SEIA) and the Poster Presentation area.
“SPI is a concrete manifestation of what an amazing industry we have,” said Stephen Miner, CEO of Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC. “We thank our exhibitors, speakers, and every single attendee, all of whom came together to create an event like no other. The reason behind SPI’s dynamism: Solar energy is an industry like no other.”
At Wednesday’s General Session, attendees got a rather unique experience: listening to solar companies, utilities, and regulators all try and think like one another. The experiment proved to foster greater understanding of the different responsibilities and priorities of each stakeholder—and hopefully more effective dialogue.
“At SPI, the industry moves forward,” said Julia Hamm, President and CEO of SEPA. “That forward progress was more evident than ever here in Chicago, from the engaging dialogue in session rooms and interactions on the trade show floor, to thought-provoking general sessions and conversations in the corridors of McCormick Place. Solar energy is about stakeholders coming together, and we’re proud that SPI was able to deliver on its promise as the premier place to exchange ideas, inspire innovation, and create opportunities to expand solar.”
“SPI ‘13 truly has been one of the best iterations of SPI ever, and that’s thanks to everyone who participated in the event, right down to each and every attendee,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “One important role SPI serves is to give the industry an annual energy boost, and I certainly felt that energy all around me here in Chicago. Now it’s time to harness it, take it home, and take action. I urge everyone who believes in our fabulous and mainstream energy source to join me in fighting to ensure that we are able to operate in a stable policy environment, so that our businesses can plan and invest in America the way we know it can.”
Solar Power International 2014
Solar Power International 2014 will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 20-23. Information about exhibiting is available at www.solarpowerinternational.com, and conference and attendance information will be available in early 2014.
— Solar Builder magazine