SPI opens on optimistic note

Some 700 exhibitors presented their products and services at this year’s SPI, according to the organizers, SEIA and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Speaking at the opening of the event, held for the first time in Chicago, Illinois, the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, underlined the important role of local governments in the development of photovoltaics to strengthen sustainable urban development.

He announced that the city, as part of the Chicago Solar Express Initiative, would approve private PV systems within one day to promote the use of solar power.

Currently, the approval of PV systems in many parts of the United States can take up to several months, which has become a major obstacle to the expansion of photovoltaics. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, also on hand for the opening ceremony, likewise expressed support for solar energy and announced new funding initiatives. By 2025, the share of renewable energy in the electricity supply to the state will increase to 25%, with solar making up at least a quarter of that.

SEIA CEO Rhone Resch emphasized at the opening ceremony the dynamic growth of photovoltaics in the United States. This year the country is expected to see an additional 5.5 GW, next year about 7 GW and in 2015 some 10 GW. An essential criterion for this, however, is that the government continue to grant tax benefits on the purchase of solar systems. In addition, the industry must ward off political attacks against the expansion of PV by the fossil fuel lobby and some energy companies.

In order to broaden political support for the further expansion of photovoltaics in the United States, Resch announced plans to soon launch an America Supports Solar initiative. He pointed to the widespread acceptance of solar energy among the U.S. population. Nine out of 10 Americans would support solar, he said.