Experts on solar energy are converging in Raleigh today for a conference designed to help expand the development of new technology. Siemens Industry is partnering with the North Carolina Solar Center for "Solar Exchange East" at North Carolina State University. Stephen Kalland is Executive Director for the North Carolina Solar Center. He says the conference will cover a number of issues.
Stephen Kalland: "There are sessions that are going to focus on economic development in the southeast as a hub for these kinds of issues in clean tech. There are sessions that are going to talk a little bit more about the codes and standards issues, some of the policy and regulatory issues that have to be dealt with. There's a session dealing with commercial-scale projects... folks that are working on different financial models to help make big projects financially viable. There's a group that's going to be talking about research here at the university in solar energy, looking at some of the next generation of technologies that are going to be available. "
Kalland says it's no surprise Raleigh is the site for the conference. North Carolina holds potential for solar electricity as well as solar-powered thermal systems. There are more than 800 registered solar projects in North Carolina, mostly in the Research Triangle region. That's according to the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's 2011 Clean Energy Data Book.
Kalland says news in the last week that the California-based solar company Solyndra has gone bankrupt shouldn't be misconstrued as an omen for the industry. He says there will always be companies that go under in a developing field.
The conference comes at a time when environmental groups are trying to secure more investments in clean energy from Duke and Progress Energy as the two utilities seek to merge. Solar industry advocates argue more investment would spur innovation and job growth.