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    Wednesday, September 26, 2007


    A local couple just passed by on the way out of the convention center lobby. The wife was asking the husband to tell her again how much they could save on their utility bill if they spent the money on the solar system they were looking at. “And how much did he say it would cost?”

    Rumor: The chief financial analyst from Goldman Sachs went to dinner tonight with top representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL).

    What’s the connection? Goldman Sachs will find out what NREL research DOE is spending on and invest in the companies preparing to take that technology to market. The local couple’s solar system investment hangs in the balance.

    It doesn't take a money man to see where the money's going. (click to enlarge)

    The convention floor is thrivingly alive with competition. It’s a fight between competing ideas: Photovoltaic panels for rooftops and arid deserts, thin film for building integrated materials, concentrator systems using heated fluids or solar panels…None of them produce electricity at market-competitive prices without government incentives like tax breaks for producers and adopters. And in this frenetic chaos of ambition, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important.

    But the people of Los Angeles suffer no such confusion. They know exactly what they want: Some want something from column A and some want something from column B; some want A and B. One wants a piece of the action, A or B. And they know why they want it.

    Solar Power 2007 – DAY 2

    The Los Angeles public.

    click to enlarge

    At Solar Power 2007, tonight the people were invited in for a look at the vendor booths on the floor, a look at what solar energy might mean to them. When the doors opened, Los Angeles swarmed inside in droves, eyes wide with wonder at the endless displays of panels and possibility, taking respite from the energy wars and political wrestling going on outside.

    The floor was opened to the public from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM September 25.

    The Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA.

    - Paul owns a carwash in Whittier. He showed his utility bill. You won’t pay that much at your home this year. He doesn’t know if a solar energy system will work for him or if it’s a waste of his time but he came to talk to some people.
    - Curtis is a Southern California community building official. He’s looking for a state-of-the-art system for the city. He wants a system that will display all solar energy’s possibilities, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal.
    - Mark has a commercial building on Signal Hill but has no special identification with the location’s place in oil history. He’s always been interested in putting some solar panels up and this is his chance to check out the possibilities.
    - Robert is concerned about Peak Oil. He heard about the convention at Treehugger. He wants to use the back 60,000 square feet of his land out near Palm Springs to build a solar plant. So far, he’s pretty disappointed with the interest he’s getting from Southern California Edison but he’s far from done exploring possibilities.
    - Dianne is a teacher at Los Cerritos Elementary school. BP, in Carson, rewarded her proposal to their “A+ for Energy” program, “Solar Solutions: Peace Through Energy Conservation,” with a $5000 grant. She’s using it to teach the kids about solar energy. She put a solar powered water fountain in the school’s garden and bought a solar powered fan, solar ovens, a sun dial, a solar powered battery charger and lots of other things solar.
    - Sidney is in the process of putting a solar system on his Long Beach apartment building. It is his legacy to his great-grandson.

    There's still a lot to learn about solar energy. (click to enlarge)

    - Paul: “I’m not really here because it’s good for the environment, I want to see if it’s gonna benefit my business.”
    - Dianne: “We need to teach our kids about the future and solar seems like a good solution…If you teach the kids, the parents learn, too.”
    - Sidney: “It’s critical to the way we live and the way our grandkids and great-grandkids will live…When you think back on the way things were, things have changed dramatically. So it’s pretty easy to believe what they say about where we’re headed.

    Tonight, NewEnergyNews wishes it were a fly in the soup on the table of those guys from Goldman Sachs, NREL and DOE. Now that the purpose has been clarified.


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