Former President Bill Clinton captured the two emerging solar industry trends on display at Solar Power International (SPI) 2012, the just-closed annual industry conclave.

The first was in his observation that it takes creative cooperation between stakeholders to build “energy that is good economics, saves the planet from the worst consequences of climate change and promotes the national security of every country that is committed to clean, self-sustaining energy.”

The second was in his observation that “you’ve got to take chances if you’re going to tomorrow’s dance.”

Elements of such creative cooperation and innovation could be seen in a broad series of SPI announcements.


Solar Policy and Jobs

DBL Investors released a new white paper, "Red, White and Green: The True Colors of America’s Clean Tech Jobs," written by Managing Partner Nancy Pfund and Associate Michael Lazar. It was filled with statistics showing the greentech economy is by no means limited by the nation’s so-called political gridlock. The fastest growth in green jobs is in red states and swing states.

A new Wilderness Society poll showed that 73 percent of the traditionally conservative voters in eleven Western states support developing renewable energy on public lands. Support included  67 percent of seniors, 68 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Latino voters and 73 percent of women voters.


Solar Balance of System and Materials

The numbers describe why a series of balance-of-system suppliers’ announcements at SPI revealed they are in the same differentiate-or-perish mode noted by GTM Editor-in-Chief Eric Wesoff in the module manufacturing sector. They are, in President Clinton’s words, taking the risk for tomorrow’s dance.

Power conversion electronics specialist Ampt announced its High Definition PV Alliance among system component makers conceived to move toward the streamlining and standardization of project installation.

Panel materials pioneer DuPontPhotovoltaic Solutions (DuPont) and Distributed Sun LLC (D-SUN) announced their D-SUN Distributed Solar Network collaboration, created to promote a set of best practices specifications that will maintain quality in solar module materials.

DUNMORE Corp. introduced a new version of its DUN-SOLAR TPE solar module backsheet using DuPont’s Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride film, which has become the industry’s backsheet material standard.

A new study from IMS Research reported 180 percent growth in the microinverter and power conversion technology parts of the inverter market in 2011 and predicted 70 percent growth in 2012. Overall inverter sector growth was predicted to be 23 percent this year.

PV inverter manufacturer Solectria Renewables introduced Disconnecting String Combiners (DISCOM) and a new commercial PV1 Line of five inverter power levels.

Schneider Electric announced a Square D PV string Combiner and Disconnects and Context SW pure sine-wave inverters/chargers.

GE Energy Management, a subsidiary of GE (NYSE: GE),  announced its inverters, acquired through its September 2011 purchase of Converteam, are being used in a 1.4-megawatt solar project in Chile’s Atacama Desert built by Germany’s Saferay GmbH and Chile’s SELTEC Ingeniería.

Power-One, Inc. (Nasdaq: PWER) introduced a series of power conversion tools for solar, including micro-inverters, the AURORA MICRO-0.3-I and AURORA MICRO-0.25-I, a utility-scale inverter series, the ULTRA-700, 1100, and 1500-TL, and a new modular inverter system, the AURORA PVI-400.0-TL.

ABB (NYSE: ABB) demonstrated a new Arc Fault Circuit Protection solution that has been fully integrated into Shoals Technologies’ new state-of-the-art combiner box.

Unirac announced a customized flat roof RapidRac G10 PV mounting solution was put to work by Sullivan & McLaughlin to optimize a 400 kW solar installation atop the soon-to-be-opened Mirebalais Hospital in Haiti.


Solar Financing

Third-party finance pioneer Clean Power Finance announced a National Permitting Standards Database created lower soft costs for residential installers by streamlining the permitting process.

Principal Solar (OTC Pink: PSWW) released a new white paper, “Investing in the Power of the Sun: The Capitalist Case for Solar Energy” that uses the United States' increasing solar capacity, falling cost and imminent achievement of incentive-free grid parity as reasons the financial community should be investing.



The Global Solar Alliance, composed of the organizers of the solar industry’s three biggest conferences, the SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation Exhibition, Solarexpo, and Solar Power International, which collectively represent 500,000 square meters of exhibition space, 5,000 exhibitors, and 300,000 attendees, announced the Global Solar Summit, a new annual international solar conference aimed and expanding public-private sector cooperation on the issues most important for solar energy advancement. The first Global Solar Summit will be May 7-8, 2013, in Milan, Italy.

Spain’s Isofoton announced the opening of a new factory in Napoleon, Ohio, where it will manufacture its PV modules. The plant will have a 50-megawatt capacity with the potential to expand to up to 300 megawatts. At 50 megawatts, it will employ 120 people.