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The 2013 Solar Focus Conference begins with a Kickoff Reception and Opening Dinner on Monday, November 11th. Following this great networking night, a full day of educational panels follows on Tuesday, November 12th.
Monday, November 11, 2013
5:00-6:00 Kickoff Reception
6:00-8:00 Welcome Dinner with Keynote – “Planning for the Future of Solar” by Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman, FERC
8:00-Midnight Afterparty at a Local Hotspot
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
8:30-8:50 Welcome Remarks
8:50-9:20 Conference Keynote – “The Sun Rises in the East” by Nat Kreamer, CEO, Clean Power Finance
9:30-11:00 Breakout Sessions
- Sustaining D.C.’s Position as a National Leader
- Solar Thermal Innovations
- Opportunities to Engage with the Federal Government
11:15-11:45 Featured Session – “Why Solar is Winning” by Jigar Shah, Founder of SunEdison and Solar Visionary
12:00-1:30 Lunch and Featured Discussion – “Federal and State Policy Outlook” by Ron Binz, Principal, Public Policy Consulting
1:45-3:15 Breakout Sessions
- The Bright Future of Maryland
- Energy Storage and its Transformation Potential for the Solar Industry
- Managing SREC Volatility
3:30-5:00 Breakout Sessions
- Progressing Solar in Virginia
- Solar Technology Outlook
- Driving Down the Cost of Capital
5:15-6:00 Closing Session with Greentech Media’s Energy Gang – “East vs West: How does East Coast Solar Really Stack Up?” by GTM Senior Editor Stephen Lacey, Jigar Shah, 38 North Solutions Founder Katherine Hamilton and special guest Jon Wellinghoff
6:00-7:00 Wrap Party/Closing Reception
Keynote and Featured Session Descriptions
“Planning for the Future of Solar” – Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman, FERC
The western U.S., especially the southwest has seen a tremendous increase in solar installation. As the cost of solar decreases, this trend will only grow and spread to the eastern U.S. Accompanying this trend are the challenges of integrating distributed solar resources into existing critical power station-centric grid designs. Techniques for this integration need not be complex or costly but be carefully thought through and planned. Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of FERC, will provide us with some of the best practices for integrating more solar in the future.
“The Sun Rises in the East” – Nat Kreamer, CEO, Clean Power Finance
We have seen tremendous momentum for solar on the East Coast as of late and markets such as D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and others are leading the way with innovative policies and programs. As coal and nuclear power down and transmission becomes more difficult to build in populated corridors, consumers and power companies will increasingly rely on distributed solar for clean, safe, and affordable electricity. Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and vice-chair of SEIA’s Board of Directors, will explain how the traditional energy industry can adapt to the inevitable growth of solar to achieve win-win outcomes.
“Why Solar is Winning” – Jigar Shah, Founder of SunEdison and solar visionary
According to GTM & SEIA, the U.S. deployed more than $15B of solar last year. And solar employs more than 100,000 in the U.S. Solar is beating all other new energy deployments, more than coal and nuclear and has shown that we can create climate wealth from the ground up. Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison and author of the upcoming book “Creating Climate Wealth,” will look at how this successful network was created and how we can use it to create climate wealth in 17 other sectors.
“Federal and State Policy Outlook” – Ron Binz, Principal, Public Policy Consulting
Robust federal and state policies are critical to the ongoing growth of the U.S. solar market. Ron Binz will join our featured lunch panel to provide an update on the important policy changes being considered and the potential positive and negative impacts for the solar industry on the East Coast.
“East vs. West: How does East Coast Solar Really Stack Up?” – Greentech Media’s Energy Gang comprised of GTM Senior Editor Stephen Lacey; Jigar Shah, 38 North Solutions Founder Katherine Hamilton, and special guest, FERC Chairman, Jon Wellinghoff.
The closing session of the conference will bring together Greentech Media’s Energy Gang for the first live version of their weekly podcast. The Energy Gang with special guest, Jon Wellinghoff, will debate how policies on the East Coast really compare to those in the West. They will discuss what is working well and where there is room for improvement.
Breakout Session Descriptions
Track 1 – Mid-Atlantic
Sustaining D.C.’s Position as a National Leader
Despite its small footprint, the District of Columbia ranks in the top ten list of cities with the highest solar density (kW installed/square mile) and has an extremely progressive solar stakeholder base comprised of over 92 solar companies, 700 solar employees, and 11 solar cooperatives with over 3000 members. In addition, D.C. also has one of the best SREC markets on the East Coast, with current prices trading near the ACP in the high $400s.
Yet despite all this promise, some challenges still do exist. Large rooftop space is constrained making it difficult to target commercial clients and financing for small to mid-size commercial can be difficult to find. This panel will bring together industry leaders to discuss the challenges and identify opportunities.
- What are the barriers preventing more solar from getting installed in the district?
- Is the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) exploring any new programs or incentives to spur additional growth?
- What progress have we made in streamlining permitting and interconnection?
- Where are the opportunities, particularly with the passage of the recent Community Solar Act?
- What role do the Co-ops in D.C. play?
- How can we help put more solar in low income areas such as Ward 7?
The Bright Future of Maryland
Maryland has been a leader in clean energy for years, setting an example for other East Coast markets. In 2012 alone, over 79 MW of solar capacity were installed, ranking Maryland 8th in the nation. To make this possible, over $205 million was invested in residential and commercial projects, a whopping 74% increase over 2011 investment. This number is on track to be exceeded in 2013. Maryland is also setting a model for innovation with the recent completion of the state’s first micro-grid. With a strong administration in place as well as engaged and active solar developers and financiers, the future of solar in Maryland is bright.
This panel will address the following questions:
- Where is Maryland policy heading and are there any upcoming changes to be aware of?
- What are details on some of the Maryland Energy Administration’s plans to promote the growth of the industry, including the agency’s upcoming release of streamlined permitting?
- Where are the opportunities and what barriers still exist?
Progressing Solar in Virginia
Compared to other East Coast markets, Virginia has lagged behind in promoting robust solar policies or offering incentives for those looking to go solar. With only an estimated 10 MW of solar installed to date, there is significant room for growth. One thing that Virginia has in its favor, however, is the 740 people working in the solar sector, a number higher than those employed in the state’s coal industry. With the recent momentum of these stakeholders building, we can expect to see some change in dynamics in the coming year.
This panel comprised of VA developers as well as Dominion, the major utility in the state, discusses what changes must happen to create a healthier solar market.
- What policy changes are being discussed and what is the feasibility of bringing them to fruition?
- How close is the industry to coming to consensus on policy changes?
- Policy aside, what are the remaining barriers present in VA whether with respect to the customer base, interconnection, or permitting?
- What programs is Dominion offering to support solar growth?
- How can VA solar stakeholders get involved if they would like to have a voice in shaping policy reform?
Track 2 – Technology Landscape
Solar Thermal Innovations
Solar heating and cooling (SHC) is quickly moving into the spotlight after many years of taking a backseat to the exciting growth story of solar PV. With the recent formation of the U.S. Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance, a Division of SEIA, the U.S. solar thermal industry is poised to expand much more rapidly. The industry recently released the SHC roadmap, calling for 300 GWth in the US by 2050 – another 100 million panels. With only 9 GWth today, the US currently ranks 36th in the world on a per capita basis.
The experts on this panel will discuss the industry opportunities as well as the barriers associated with achieving the 300 GWth goal.
- What financing models are emerging to deploy more solar thermal projects? How do these differ from PV financing models?
- Solar cooling has enormous potential to increase the capacity factor and capital efficiency of solar thermal. Where are we in the practical deployment of solar cooling in the US?
- What national and local policy changes are needed to help deploy more solar thermal?
- The industry has driven down costs in recent years, only to be challenged further by cheap natural gas. What is the outlook vis a vis solar thermal’s main competitive fuel?
- Consumer awareness has been identified as a major barrier. What is needed? Can robust, cost effective metering help to address this challenge?
- Does solar thermal’s inherent storage requirement offer some valuable capacity and diversity to the energy mix?
Energy Storage and its Transformation Potential for the Solar Industry
The U.S. market for PV systems combined with energy storage technologies is forecast to grow rapidly from $200 million in 2013 to $2.8 billion in 2018. Energy storage is becoming the next hot market segment in clean energy and many installers and developers are now exploring the use of battery storage to complement their solar projects. Understanding the landscape of this market will be crucial for meeting the future demands of both residential and commercial customers.
In this panel, we will take an in-depth look at this market segment and address the following questions:
- How can energy storage enable greater market opportunities?
- What are the latest technology advancements and which technologies are bankable?
- What are current costs of storage and how can we overcome high capital costs with new financing models?
- How can energy storage aid in building better microgrids?
- What regulatory and legal issues are present?
Solar Technology Outlook
Solar developers and financiers watch the technology landscape very closely as a shift in product pricing or quality can quickly change project economics and bankability. In addition, the technology market segment has historically been more susceptible than others to consolidation or companies going out of business. It is important for solar stakeholders to understand current market dynamics and where this sector is heading.
This panel of experts will discuss the following:
- What is the current technology landscape?
- As consolidation occurs in the industry, what can we expect?
- Where are prices heading?
- Are there any changes in investor requests or preferences with warranties and other factors?
- What financing options are we seeing emerge from manufacturers?
Track 3 – Project Development and Finance
Opportunities to Engage with the Federal Government
Whether through incentives such as the 30% investment tax credit, bonus depreciation, Department of Energy Loan Guarantee & SunShot Initiative, or large scale procurement opportunities such as those currently offered by the Department of Defense, the Federal government has played and continues to play an important role in supporting the solar industry.
Experts in this session will answer the following questions:
- What current Federal procurement opportunities exist and what are the best practices for bidding on these opportunities?
- What should developers of financiers be on the lookout for in Federal contracts?
- What impact have the Loan Guarantee and Sunshot programs had on the solar sector? Can we expect to see any new programs emerge from the DOE?
Managing SREC Volatility
SRECs continue to play a big role in East Coast solar project development. But ever changing program policies and market conditions can make it difficult for investors and developers to get comfortable with opportunities. Panelists will address supply and demand in SREC markets as well as impact on financing projects.
The following questions will be addressed:
- What is the current appetite for long term SREC contracts from bankable offtakers and what terms are we seeing?
- Are financiers taking more SREC risk? If yes, in what markets?
- What innovative solutions, if any, are developers creating to mitigate SREC risk for investors or to counterbalance lack of access to long term agreements?
- Are there any upcoming potential program changes that could shift current dynamics?
Driving Down the Cost of Capital
Solar developers are constantly seeking ways to access the lowest cost of capital as well as new methods of financing. With a limited supply of tax equity and investors that are comfortable with the solar asset class, competition can be fierce. This panel will review current market trends for tax equity and provide some insight into what developers can expect on new solar finance solutions.
Our experts will address the following questions:
- What is the current state of the tax equity market?
- How can we attract new tax equity investors to the solar sector?
- What are REITs, MLPs, and Yield Cos? What are the benefits and limitations of each?
There are still a few speaking slots available. If you would like to discuss opportunities to participate in a panel, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please view the 2011 Solar Focus Agenda and 2012 Solar Focus Agenda for a glimpse at what we covered in past years.