By Carly Rixham July 5, 2015
Greetings, Solar Citizens! Do you know what’s amazing? According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average price of a completed photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped by 33 percent since the beginning of 2011. In addition, Vishal Shah, solar industry analyst at Deutsche Bank, predicts rooftop solar PV will achieve grid parity in all 50 states by 2016. The good news just keeps on coming!
Here at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), we’ve been busy—working hard to advance solar in local communities and nationwide. We launched a new membership portal on May 31—please check it out at ases.org and tell us what you think. Many thanks for your support and patience through this major transition at ASES—we are proud to serve you!
We are also excited to announce a new project that we’re involved in, with the Amicus Solar Cooperative and Namasté Solar—a proposal to form the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union. The credit union will offer affordable loan terms for solar and other clean energy purchases. How cool is that?! The credit union will be available only to ASES members, adding incredible value to your membership. But first, we need your help. Please fill out the survey that we emailed around May 22. The more responses we get, the stronger our dataset will be for the credit union to be approved. See “Building the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union” on page 14 to learn more about this project (link coming after the article posts).
The 44th ASES National Solar Conference, SOLAR 2015, is coming fast—July 28-30 at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. The conference will feature dynamic 60-minute sessions, switch~ lightning talks, debates, and more. There will be generous time between sessions for discussions, breaks, and networking.
The solar industry is changing dramatically, and the conference will highlight concepts such as grid integration, resource assessment, whole building systems, and the energy-water-food nexus. We’ve got a great lineup of world-class research and presenters, plus the 24th annual ASES Passive Solar Conference. Speakers include Karl R. Rábago, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Pace Law School; Pennsylvania Secretary of Planning and Policy John Hanger; author and solar historian John Perlin; and the founders of the Land Art Generator, Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian. The Amicus Solar Cooperative and Namasté Solar will also present information about the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union, with a Q&A session at the end.
Bring a buddy to SOLAR 2015, as there is a lot to offer for those not attending the conference. Beautiful State College boasts caves, bike trails, farmers markets, and microbrews. Penn State students are helping to organize local events, including an after-hours gathering at a groovy café.
I encourage all ASES members to attend the Annual Member Meeting on July 28, 12-1:30 p.m., and would like to challenge conference attendees to a dance off at Solar Fest, the party on July 29. If you are not much of a dancer, perhaps I’ll see you at the 5K Fun Run on the first morning. Whatever your fancy, there will be plenty of activities for participation.
Check out the SOLAR 2015 program on the following pages, and see “Expanding Horizons: Shaping the New Energy Economy” for additional conference highlights. If you haven’t been to one of the ASES conferences recently, this might be the year to check out what’s new in solar and clean energy.
I’d like to thank our sponsors, including the American Institute of Architects, West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, Hecate Energy, and Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment. If you are interested in sponsoring SOLAR 2015 or participating as a media partner, go to ases.org/conference.
Also, the ASES National Solar Tour is right around the corner—October 3-4, 2015, in most communities nationwide. We are looking to bring more tours to areas that are just beginning to adopt solar. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Catalyst award we received—with the Texas Solar Energy Society—we are developing some new technology to connect the tours. Go to nationalsolartour.org to find a tour or get involved.
Through my work at ASES, I am reminded of a notable quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Carly Rixham (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive director at the American Solar Energy Society.