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Roundtables USA 2021


November 9, 2021

Solar opportunities in an age of extremes

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The 2021 Roundtables USA convenes at a time of both unprecedented opportunities and daunting challenges. 

Opportunities include a call by the Biden administration for the U.S. to reach a 3-4x increase in solar deployment in order to reach 2035 clean energy targets. Solar adoption rates are high and the resource increasingly is specified as the go-to option as new capacity is added no matter the sector: residential, commercial and industrial, and utility. 

Challenges include the ability of the supply chain to support rapid growth while simultaneously keeping solar as an affordable option. A related issue is trade tensions with China and the threat that a series of trade actions by the U.S. may have on supplies. 

Against all this is the threat posed by climate change and the very real operational challenges that increasingly severe weather events and climate-driven wildfire are having on solar. 

The Roundtables take up these issues and seeks to answer key questions for the solar industry: 

  • How can solar installation be better prepared for…and protected from…extreme weather events such as hailstorms and damaging winds?
  • How can solar systems effectively use software tools and artificial intelligence to achieve and even exceed performance targets and deliver on solar’s potential as a dispatchable resource?
  • How is the trend toward larger module sizes affecting system design decisions?
  • What specific steps need to be in place for solar to achieve a 3-4x expansion, including labor, finance, government policy, and supply chain?
  • How can solar most effectively be deployed to support broad goals aimed at both decarbonizing and electrifying the economy?
  • What current technologies will be needed to support solar’s rapid expansion
  • What technologies will emerge to better help solar as a predominant generation resource?

Our Expert Speakers:


Massoud Amin | Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering | University of Minnesota

Dr. Massoud Amin, IEEE and ASME Fellow, is a professor of electrical & computer engineering (ECE), and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor Award Recipient, at the University of Minnesota. He is widely credited as being the father of the smart electric power grid, and a cyber-physical security leader, who directed all security-related R&D for all North American utilities after the 9/11 tragedies.

Ann Marie Augustus | Co-Founder / VP of Operations | Urban Electric Power

Co-founder and Vice President of Operations for Urban Electric Power (UEP). Ann Marie previously co-founded a solar investment startup, Park Place Renewable, and worked on technology transfer efforts for the CUNY Energy Institute, a research lab dedicated to energy innovation. Since 2017, Ann Marie has served as a member on the Board for Godrej Americas, a leading manufacturer of equipment for Oil and Gas, Power and Water sectors. Ann Marie has 10 years of startup energy experience and focuses on strategy and finance. Ann Marie holds a BA from William Paterson University and an MS in Technology Business Leadership from Brown University.

John Balfour | President & Chief Technology & Applications Officer | High Performance PV

Dr. John R. Balfour is a recognized PV / storage professional and author with 4 decades of experience in all facets within the PV Industry. He spent 32 years as an EPC. His career knowledge and capabilities are broad based as they address PV Systems Engineering (SE) improvements focused on Reliability, Availability, Maintainability including testability and Safety (RAMS) applications. His experience is in residential, commercial and utility system delivery specification, design, construction, commissioning, O&M, and Repowering. His career can be measured in achieving substantive improvements in plant output and revenue optimization, with cost and risk reduction. He has been active in PV standards development for a decade. 2016-Present – Peer Elected: “System Conformity Assessment & Resource Expert in the PV Sector of the US National Committee of the IECRE”.

Matt Campbell | CEO & Co-Founder | Terabase

Matt runs day-to-day operations at Terabase and drives the organization’s overall strategy. In 15 years at SunPower, Matt held roles in project development, product development, manufacturing, M&A, JV formation and operations. His experience spans more than 200 projects in 20 countries representing over $10B of project investment. Prior to SunPower, Matt worked in the VC, software and semi-conductor industries.

Ben Damiani | CTO & Co-Founder | Solar Inventions

Ben is currently the CTO of Solar Inventions, winners of the first American Made Solar Prize in 2019, the largest monetary award ever given by the USA Department of Energy. Ben has spent his career in solar. His innovations have enjoyed global reach through his work at early solar pioneers, Suniva and SolarWorld. He has worked across the world commercializing new solar technologies and building solar manufacturing facilities.

Aron Dobos | Director, Software Product Management | Nextracker

Aron has over 13 years experience in the solar industry. For nearly nine years he led the development of the System Advisor Model (SAM) and PVWatts photovoltaic modeling software and solar modeling algorithms at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Subsequently, he moved into solar asset management software product R&D at Envision Digital, a top tier wind turbine manufacturer and leader in clean energy software technology, to develop a brand new approach to advanced solar analytics called Envision Ensight. He joined Nextracker in May 2021, to help further build out Nextracker’s market leading digital tracker technologies including TrueCapture and NX Navigator.

Frédéric Dross | VP of Strategic Development | Senergy Technical Services (STS)

Frédéric Dross has been working in photovoltaics since 2004 when the cumulative installed PV capacity was more than 200 times smaller than today and the price more than 30 times the one of today. Frédéric worked first in cells and modules R&D for imec in Belgium and Hanwha in California. Frédéric then held the positions of Head of Module Testing Business for PVEL/DNV GL and VP Technologies Americas for DSM. Since June 2020, Frédéric is VP of Strategic Development for STS, the global market leader in PV module inspection. Frédéric has authored more than 80 scientific peer-reviewed international papers, 6 technology White Papers, and 8 patents. 

Hongbin Fang | Director of Product Marketing | LONGi

Hongbin Fang is Director of Product Marketing at LONGi, a global leading dedicated monocrystalline solar wafer, cell and module manufacturer. Hongbin Fang has been working in semiconductor and solar industry for more than 20 years. Before joining LONGi in 2016, Hongbin was working at SunEdison for 5 years, where he has led the effort on solar wafer, cell and module integration, new technology and new supplier introduction into HVM manufacturing.

Chris Gordon | Manager, Project Development | EDF Renewables North America

Chris began his career in the environmental consulting industry where he performed environmental due diligence investigations and designed and implemented remediation strategies at environmentally sensitive sites in California, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. During his tenure with EDF Renewables, Chris has managed the development of a portfolio of a dozen distributed solar generation projects for rural electric cooperatives throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.

Nicole Jackson | Senior Member of the Technical Staff | Sandia National Laboratories

Nicole D. Jackson is a technical staff member in Sandia National Laboratories’ Energy Water Systems Integration Department. She received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering as well as M.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech. Her expertise centers on using historical and projected climate data to quantify exposure and impacts from extreme weather events (including wildfires and hurricanes) to energy and food systems.

Claire Kearns-McCoy | Senior Project Manager / Solar Engineer | Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Claire Kearns-McCoy has extensive experience in conducting and analyzing electroluminescence (EL) imaging field tests. She has participated in projects and interpreted test results in projects covering over 60,000 PV modules. Prior to joining CEA, Claire spent three years at SunEdison where she worked in solar module research and development as well as manufacturing management for solar wafers, cells and modules. Claire holds a B.S. in Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a focus in mechanical engineering and energy conversion engineering.

Suzanne Leta | Head of Policy and Strategy | SunPower

With 18 years of experience in renewable energy, Suzanne Leta is known for her industry leadership and board expertise. At SunPower, Suzanne directs the market policy and strategy team, which is responsible for government relations, strategic business initiatives and new market entry. Before joining SunPower in 2015, she led the US power and renewables business for Atkins, now SNC-Lavalin. Suzanne is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association. In addition, she serves on leadership, policy and advisory councils to the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), Local Solar for All, and SolarAPP+.

Karla Loeb | Board of Directors - DG Division Chair | Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Karla Loeb is a veteran in clean energy policy and business development. As the Chief Policy & Development Officer at Sigora Solar, Karla oversees legislative, administrative and regulatory efforts at the local, state and national levels.

Pedro Magalhaes | Director, Global Engineering and R & D | Arctech Solar

Pedro HSV Magalhães started his PV career in Madrid, Spain, back in 2003, designing and engineering trackers for Concentration PV. When PV was transitioning from the laboratory to a mass industry, Pedro moved to the USA and had the opportunity to deploy tracker solutions in the ever-growing PV market. His career spans over several facets of the industry, from product development of PV components, plant engineering to business development of EPC services. Currently Pedro is the Director of Global Engineering and R&D at Arctech Solar, where he heads tracker product development and works with owners, developers and EPCs deploying PV in 4 continents.

Jenya Meydbray | CEO | PV Evolution Labs (PVEL)

Jenya Meydbray is CEO and cofounder of PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), the leading independent lab for the downstream solar and energy storage market. Since entering the solar industry in 2006, Jenya has pioneered bankability testing for PV and energy storage equipment and risk mitigation methods for power plants. Jenya holds an MS and a BS in Electrical Engineering and as well as two photovoltaic-related patents.

Brian Mills | Head of Alternative Energy, North America | Stäubli Electrical Connectors

Brian Mills is the Head of Alternative Energy in North America and has been with Stäubli for 17 years. His previous duties included Product Management, Standards Compliance and Product Engineering.

Marlene Motyka | US and Global Renewable Energy Leader | Deloitte

Marlene Motyka is Deloitte’s US and Global Renewable Energy leader and a principal in Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP. She consults on matters related to valuation, tax, M&A, financing, business strategy, and financial modeling for the renewable energy and power and utilities sectors. Marlene has worked in the energy and resources sector for over 25 years and the renewable energy sector for over 15 years.

Vartan Oskanian | Advisor to the CEO | Recom

Since January 2019, Vartan Oskanian is with Recom as Advisor to the CEO, where he brings thirty years of experience in international relations, negotiations, public international law and public policy. Vartan Oskanian served as minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Armenia from 1998 to 2008. Prior to his ministerial appointment, he held several high level positions in the ministry, which he had joined from the first day of Armenia’s independence in September 1991.

Garrett Nilsen | Deputy Director | U.S. Department of Energy

Garrett Nilsen is the deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, which advances research and development in solar energy technologies. Garrett has managed over a hundred research and development projects covering all technology spaces in the office. Multiple technologies from projects he managed are now actively used in the solar energy industry. In addition, Garrett has been involved in the development of prize programming, technical assistance efforts, and data analysis. Garrett specializes in the transition of research and knowledge to stakeholders across the solar energy industry.

Michael Parr | Executive Director | Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance

Michael Parr is Executive Director of the Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance made up of companies across the solar supply chain working to decarbonize solar manufacturing. He has over 40 years of experience in energy, manufacturing, and public policy.

Karl Rábago | Principal | Rábago Energy, LLC.

Karl R. Rábago operates an energy consultancy based in Denver, Colorado. He has served as a Public Utility Commissioner in Texas, as a utility executive with Austin Energy (the City of Austin’s municipal electric utility), and as a regulatory affairs director for AES and AES Wind. Rábago is on Twitter at @rabagoenergy and claims he is a ‘free-market green.’

Dana Redden | Founder & CEO | Solar Stewards

Celebrating over a decade in the solar industry, Dana Clare Redden is a passionate solar professional dedicated to the development of distributed generation solar globally. She is the founder of Solar Stewards, a social enterprise connecting corporate social responsibility initiatives with marginalized communities. Dana is among GRIST Magazine’s 50 Fixers, a two-time judge at the DOE/NREL Solar District Cup, and an ACORE Accelerate member.

Elizabeth Sanderson | Executive Director | Solar Energy International (SEI)

Elizabeth joined Solar Energy International (SEI) with an impressive history of leadership and experience that will be leveraged to up-level their mission of expanding a diverse, well-trained solar workforce with the aim of mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable economic growth. With credentials including COO and Director of Development of The Hunger Project (a nonprofit with a mission of ending world hunger), President of an advertising agency that managed several worldwide brands, and Chief Marketing Officer of Sunflare (a solar start-up), Elizabeth is set to scale SEI while staying true to their key differentiators of quality education and a family culture.

George Schulz | Vice President, Clean Energy | Ariel Re

Market leader in North America for Ariel Re (Lloyds of London) Clean Energy team that develops and distributes insurance risk solutions to the global renewable energy markets. With over 20 years in financial services and insurance, experienced in product development, underwriting and structuring innovative risk management solutions. Prior to joining Argo in 2017, the U.S. lead for Munich Re’s Special Enterprise Risks focused on technology performance risk products. Previously, the Senior Vice President for structured products at financial guaranty insurer, Radian Asset Assurance, Inc., he also co-founded the infrastructure finance business at Radian.

John Sedgwick | President | VDE Americas

John co-founded VDE Americas in 2013, where he has served as President since. VDE Americas is a wholly owned subsidiary of VDE GmBH, Germany. John is a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience in establishing innovative technology companies and generating returns to investors. He has over 20 years of solar industry experience ranging from silicon manufacturing to finance/development of 100MW+ utility scale plants. John’s solar journey started in 2001 when he co-founded Solaicx, a monocrystalline wafer manufacture based in Santa Clara with operations in Portland, Oregon. John served as Executive Vice President of the company until it was sold to MEMC/SunEdison in 2010.

Dean Solon | Founder | Shoals Technologies Group

Dean Solon is the Founder of Shoals and responsible for developing innovative next generation solutions that drive the company’s growth. He has an extensive background in lean manufacturing utilizing rigorous quality control processes from the automotive industry. Dean has a proven executive management track record with over 25 years of experience driving sales, innovation, and technological growth for the solar industry and holds 18 patents.

Chris Thellen | Product Development Engineer | Endurans Solar

Dr. Christopher Thellen holds the position of Product Development Engineer for Endurans Solar, in the area of photovoltaic films and sheet. Christopher has spent over 20 years of his career in research and development roles for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, Metabolix Incorporated and Tomark-Worthen LLC. Dr. Thellen has over 5 years of experience in photovoltaic backsheet and helped develop the first co-extruded backsheet for Tomark-Worthen in 2018. Since the formation of Endurans Solar in 2021, Christopher has begun work with his new global colleagues in backsheet process development as well as new research and development initiatives within the new company.

Hamlet Tunyan | CEO | Recom

Hamlet Tunyan is the founder and CEO of Recom Group, a leading European renewable energy company with global operations and presence. Along with its PV module and cell manufacturing facilities in France and Italy, Recom is also an independent utility-scale power producer globally. Mr Tunyan created the company from the ground up, beginning in 2007, scaling it up to its current position as one of the largest and the only Bloomberg Tier 1 solar energy company in Europe. In recent years alone, Mr Tunyan has developed great number of renewable energy assets spread globally some of which are sold to companies like NexteraEnergy in the US, 7C Solarparken in Germany, MET Group in Hungary, totaling 120 million USD.

Paul Wormser | Vice President, Technology | Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Paul Wormser has over 40 years of solar and storage industry experience including roles in engineering, sales, marketing, product development, strategic planning, and senior management. Paul has worked as an executive for Clean Energy Associates (CEA) since 2017 and oversees all aspects of client projects and Supply Chain Management. Prior to joining CEA, Paul served as the Senior Director of Marketing and Solar Materials at SunEdison, one of the largest global renewable energy development companies. He joined SunEdison in 2013 as Director of Special Projects in the Solar Platform group. He led the deployment of fixed tilt and tracking systems, and the creation of their Silvantis™ module line. Prior to SunEdison, Paul held VP roles at First Solar and the Solar Division of SHARP Electronics’. 

Session 1 | Optimizing systems and hardware to meet environmental and performance challenges

The effects of climate change are being felt across the United States as extreme temperatures, drought, and wildfires plague the West; and more extreme rain and severe weather events become more widespread across the eastern half of the country.

It’s clear that solar and energy storage must play rapidly growing roles in decarbonizing the economy to help combat the rising toll of climate change.

The climate challenge raises the stakes for solar and storage to deliver reliable and cost-effective carbon-free energy, even as those same resources face increased risks of their own from fires and storms, as well as component failures and long-term system performance.

This Roundtable session tackles issues related to quality and performance from multiple points of view, starting with a macro view of the critical issues facing solar and energy storage and drilling down to more detailed discussions of inverters, trackers, and modules.

Session 2 | Solar everywhere: What the solar industry needs to accelerate deployment

The prospects for clean, sustainable energy sources have never been brighter.

Technology innovation, coupled with supportive policies at the local, state, and federal levels, are helping to drive rapidly expanding uses of PV, energy storage, clean hydrogen, and widespread electrification across multiple sectors, including the all-important transportation sector.

This Roundtable session highlights both the technologies and the policies that are likely to be the most impactful.

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Senior Manager, Business Development & Sales

Emailmatt( at )
Phone: +1 518 560 01 79

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