2018 Solar Industry Conferences and Events

Looking for opportunities to network or develop professionally? This overview of national and regional solar and energy storage conferences and events is here to help.

Industry conferences and events are an excellent way to keep current with technology and market trends, share ideas and best practices, attend trainings and workshops, maintain credentials, or increase market influence and exposure. But do you want to do a deep dive on specialized topics, gain a high-level perspective on national issues or focus on your regional market? Given the ever-increasing list of events, solar professionals need to plan in advance to make the best use of their time and money.

Here, I provide an overview of 21 conferences and events, in nine different states plus the District of Columbia and Mexico, of interest to solar professionals. The focus is on business-to-business events rather than on consumer-facing events. In addition to covering large national conferences with multiple technical tracks, I include specialty events that focus on topics such as finance, asset management, product reliability, continuing education, grid evolution and production modeling. I present the following profiles alphabetically, broadly categorized as either national or regional events. The companion table provides a chronological overview of the events.

National Events

DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition

Where: San Antonio, TX When: January 23–25

DistribuTECH is an annual electric power transmission and distribution event that covers technologies used to move electricity from the power plant all the way to the point of consumption. According to event organizer PennWell, DistribuTECH draws roughly 13,500 individuals, including professionals representing renewable energy industries and more than 325 utilities. The conference presents 15 technical tracks, covering topics such as distributed renewable generation, energy storage and microgrids, distribution automation, advanced metering and smart cities. The exhibitor list for the expo includes more than 500 companies with products and services related to electricity generation, plant automation and control, demand response, transmission and distribution system operation and reliability, cybersecurity, and renewables integration. Collocated events include a symposium hosted by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative and a SunShot-sponsored poster session featuring students from the Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) network. — distributech.com

Energy Storage North America

Where: Pasadena, CA When: November 6–8

Energy Storage North America (ESNA) is an annual conference and expo dedicated to grid-connected energy storage. According to event organizers Strategen Consulting and Messe Düsseldorf North America, the event draws more than 2,000 developers, end users, utility representatives and policy makers. The first day of the event includes site tours, workshops and the opening reception. More than 100 exhibitors will showcase storage technologies, systems and services in the expo hall over the next two days. Attendees can also check out keynote addresses, breakout sessions, an awards ceremony and reception, and a closing reception. Breakout sessions in previous years have covered energy storage case studies and lessons learned, market challenges and opportunities, grid transformation, and insights from pioneering utilities and independent power producers. The half-day preconference workshops cover topics such as best practices in procurement, introduction to technologies and economics, and energy storage modeling. — esnaexpo.com

Grid Edge Innovation Summit

Where: San Francisco, CA When: June 20–21

The Grid Edge Innovation Summit explores issues, opportunities and trends related to tomorrow’s distributed energy system. Its organizer, Greentech Media (GTM), uses the term grid edge to describe the many software, hardware and business innovations that enable the deployment of smart, interconnected infrastructure at or near the end-use customer. The conference agenda in previous years has included topics such as innovation in grid infrastructure, the evolving role of the electric utility, buildings as energy assets and financing grid-edge deployments. According to GTM, the conference draws over 1,000 attendees from hundreds of companies, including 3M, Apple, BMW, Duke Energy, Google, National Grid, Nest, NRG Energy, Oncor, PG&E, Siemens, Tesla, the US Department of Energy and Whole Foods. In previous years, GTM has broken the event into two separate tracks, one with a consumer focus and another with a corporate focus, with more than 100 speakers participating in the event. Highlights from the exhibit hall include the Grid Edge Awards ceremony. — greentechmedia.com/events

Grid Evolution Summit

Where: Washington, DC When: July 9–12

Tired of “electricity of the future” conferences where all you do is sit back and listen to speakers? Event organizer Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) envisions the Grid Evolution Summit as a national town hall meeting in which attendees take an active role in round-table discussions on hot industry topics. What does the utility customer of the future look like? How can technology providers help facilitate grid modernization? What is the role of regulators in future grid scenarios? At Grid Evolution Summit, multiple stakeholder groups—utilities, independent system operators, technology providers, industry consultants, government entities and NGOs—will all come together to work through these important issues. Attendees can shape the conversation, broaden industry relationships, and connect with business leaders and policy makers. — sepapower.org/events

Intersolar North America

Where: San Francisco, CA When: July 10–12

With events on four continents, the Germany-based Intersolar has a legitimate claim to being the world’s leading solar exhibition and conference organization. Entering its 10th year, Intersolar North America is one of the top national conferences focused on the solar industry. According to organizers, the 2017 event, which is collocated with Electrical Energy Storage (EES) North America, drew more than 15,000 attendees and more than 500 exhibitors. Since roughly one-third of the exhibitors are cross-listed with EES, Intersolar has a noticeable energy storage emphasis, tracking global trends. Exhibitors include module companies, power electronics vendors, electrical suppliers, mounting system manufacturers, BOS companies, monitoring and software platforms, and energy storage providers. The event is collocated at the Moscone Center with SEMICON West. Highlights away from the exhibition hall include the legendary Solar Battle of the Bands and other events sponsored by CalSEIA, the state chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). — intersolar.us

NABCEP Continuing Education Conference

Where: Niagara Falls, NY When: March 19–22

The NABCEP Continuing Education Conference is primarily geared toward NABCEP-certified professionals who need continuing education credits to maintain their certification. All NABCEP certificants must complete at least 18 hours of relevant training every 3 years. While dozens of registered training providers offer continuing education opportunities throughout the year, NABCEP’s annual Continuing Education Conference can provide all 18 hours over a single 3-day period. Noncertified professionals, meanwhile, can earn up to 18 hours of education to meet the eligibility requirements to sit for a NABCEP exam. A typical conference schedule features more than 55 different 1.5- or 2-hour technical sessions, covering topics such as rapid-shutdown requirements, 1,500-volt system designs, PV systems and the NEC, lithium battery energy storage, Code-compliant interconnections and roof penetration water-proofing. During breaks, attendees can network with peers or explore the exhibit hall, which draws roughly 50 companies. This is a highly targeted event that often sells out in advance, with a maximum capacity of approximately 500 attendees. — nabcep.org

NREL PV Reliability Workshops

Where: Lakewood, CO When: February 27–March 1

The PV Reliability Workshop (PVRW) is so highly targeted and specialized that you must be a presenter to register for the event. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) hosts the event near its research campus in Lakewood, Colorado, and plans the agenda in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The focus of the event is on sharing information that can improve module reliability, which not only reduces the levelized cost of solar energy but also promotes investor confidence. All participating organizations must submit an abstract and contribute to the workshop. — pvrw.nrel.gov

PVPMC and Systems Symposium Workshop

Where: Albuquerque, NM When: May 1–3

The PV Performance Modeling Collaborative (PVPMC) and Systems Symposium Workshop focuses on the three M’s of PV modules and systems: measurement, modeling and monitoring. Sandia National Laboratories organizes this event together with CFV Solar Laboratory. The specialized nature of the workshop draws experts from around the world who share research on a variety of topics and discuss the implications of these findings. The previous program, from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, included roughly 60 presentations of 20 minutes each, covering topics such as solar resource data and forecasting, modeling software updates, modeling methods and case studies, monitoring for degradation and soiling studies. The Electric Power Research Institute is dedicating a third day to grid integration and grid modeling topics, a new event. Other highlights include a workshop dinner in Albuquerque’s historic Old Town and tours of the CFV Solar Laboratory. Look for a dedicated website to go live in January with a call for abstracts. — pvpmc.sandia.gov

Solar Asset Management North America

Where: San Francisco, CA When: March 13–14

Solar Asset Management focuses on the operational phase of solar power plants and portfolios. Netherlands-based Solarplaza organizes the event, which is now in its 5th year. The annual conference draws more than 40 sponsors, 90 speakers and 500 attendees from leading solar services providers, asset and portfolio managers, independent power producers, utilities and investors active in the North American market. The agenda covers a variety of technical and financial topics, ranging from performance optimization to secondary markets and refinancing. If your company specializes in asset management, this is an excellent event to attend in terms of content and networking opportunities. Other program highlights include off-site PV power plant visits to gain hands-on knowledge and insights. — solarassetmanagement.us

Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit 

Where: San Diego, CA When: March 20–22

The Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit is a gathering place for industry deal makers, permitting senior-level solar and financial executives to mingle in an intimate setting. According to event organizer Infocast, the summit provides deal makers with an opportunity to meet, share plans for the upcoming year and capitalize on prospects that may lead to successful deals. Attendees can stay abreast of the solar financing landscape and gain insights into industry developments, strategic opportunities and efforts to overcome challenges. The agenda includes a 2-day multitrack summit preceded by either a presummit solar-plus-storage workshop or an executive briefing. Panel discussions cover topics such as tax equity trends, financing outlook, risk management, and sourcing sponsor equity and development capital. The summit venue is the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. — infocastinc.com/event

Solar Power International

Where: Anaheim, CA When: September 24–27

Solar Power International (SPI) is the largest solar trade show in North America. Solar Power Events, a partnership between SEIA and SEPA, presents the 4-day event, which is now in its 15th year. According to the event presenter, SPI 2017 drew upward of 20,000 industry professionals and 750 exhibitors, including manufacturers, service providers and other vendors. Though solar remains the focus, the event is collocated with Energy Storage International, Hydrogen + Fuel Cells North America and the Smart Energy Microgrid Marketplace. In addition to offering an expansive exhibition hall, the event features multitrack educational sessions, a technical symposium, trainings, poster sessions and pre- and postconference workshops. Other highlights include networking receptions, a block party and several special events, such as the Run with the Sun 5K. Be sure to sign up early for the Professional Women in Solar Lunch, as this sells out every year. — solarpowerinternational.com

Solar Summit

Where: San Diego, CA When: April 30–May 2

The Solar Summit covers themes such as innovations in solar, grid transformation, the evolution of project finance and emerging markets. Now in its 11th year, this GTM event draws 500-plus attendees, more than a third of whom are in senior management positions. Speakers include top industry executives and thought leaders. The GTM Research team brings its unique blend of market research and economic analysis to the table to facilitate a deep dive into complex topics. The event is collocated with the S3 Solar Software Summit, a full-day event presented in partnership with Folsom Labs and dedicated to the solar software ecosystem. — greentechmedia.com/events

US Energy Storage Summit

Where: TBD When: late 2018

Another GTM event, the US Energy Storage Summit takes a close look into the emerging domestic energy storage market. The event draws more than 600 professionals representing utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators and storage practitioners for 2 full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders and high-level networking opportunities. The agenda in previous years has explored market opportunities on both sides of the meter, emerging technologies, business models, financing strategies, utility policies and market design. Look for GTM Research to release the latest edition of its US Energy Storage Monitor at the event, which typically takes place late in the calendar year. — greentechmedia.com/events

Regional Events

California Solar Power Expo

Where: San Diego, CA When: March 27–28

The largest regional event presented by Solar Power Events, the California Solar Power Expo focuses on the solar and storage supply chain in North America’s largest solar market. The event brings together more than 70 exhibitors and 1,500 industry professionals. It features a combination of business and educational opportunities, including workshops, exhibitor-led trainings and networking events. In spite of the state-level focus, the California Solar Power Expo has implications for a national audience. Collocated at the event is SEIA’s Codes & Standards Symposium, which provides attendees with an opportunity to keep current with the ongoing development of electrical, mechanical, structural, and safety  codes and standards. Symposium registrants receive a complimentary expo pass, which provides access to the show floor and the technical training theaters. — events.solar/expo

Midwest Solar Expo

Where: Minneapolis, MN When: April 30–May 2

The Midwest Solar Expo is an annual conference that brings together hundreds of executives and stakeholders along the solar industry value chain to advance Midwest markets. The 3-day event is now in its 5th year and features educational, training and networking opportunities. Participants include solar and energy storage manufacturers, distributors, installers, financiers, developers, EPCs, policy makers, professional services providers and nonprofits. Collocated at this event is the Smart Energy Symposium, a 1-day speaker series that explores the nexus between the smart grid ecosystem and the infrastructure of cities, as it relates to communications, transportation and resiliency. Other highlights include the Startup Showcase, an Innovation Theater, and a solar farm trip. — midwestsolarexpo.com

Oregon Solar Energy Conference

Where: Portland, OR When: May 1–3

The long-running Oregon Solar Energy Conference is one of the most robust of the regional conferences. Presented by OSEIA, the Oregon state SEIA chapter, the event draws more than 30 exhibitors and 450 attendees. Participants include local installers, government entities, major corporations and nonprofits. The conference features exhibitor-led technical presentations, with a heavy emphasis on utility-scale solar and energy storage systems. The Solar Contractor Day is one of the event highlights. Presented in partnership with the Energy Trust of Oregon, this 1-day event allows local contractors to invest in the technical and business skills they need to remain competitive. In 2017, the business development and technical training tracks covered topics such as effectively managing complexity and growth, National Electrical Code change and installation best practices. — oregonsolarenergyconference.com

Solar Goes Corporate

Where: Boston, MA When: April 27

SEIA’s Solar Goes Corporate event is a get-together for leaders of the corporate, finance, legal and solar sectors to share insights and best practices. The focus of the event is on how businesses, service providers and project developers can work together successfully when procuring, deploying and investing in solar. Topics of discussion include developments in corporate solar, policy changes and financial opportunities, and improving service provider partnerships with corporate end users. Panels will address the needs of small- and middle-market companies new to solar as well as those of experienced Fortune 500 companies. Early arrivers can attend the networking reception on the evening of April 26. Look for a second Solar Goes Corporate event on the West Coast later in the year. — events.solar

Solar Summit Mexico

Where: Mexico City When: February 13–14

Presented by GTM, Solar Summit Mexico is a 2-day event that will explore Latin America’s emergence as one of the leading regions for solar development in recent years. Mexico in particular has taken a leading role in the dynamic energy transition that is under way, setting the stage for unprecedented solar market growth. Thanks to abundant solar resources, high power prices, falling technology costs and a need for resource diversification, GTM Research expects Mexico to join the ranks of  global solar development leaders in coming years. The conference agenda includes topics such as the Mexican PV market on the global stage, large-scale solar development in Mexico, distributed generation opportunities in Mexico, financing solar in Mexico and the evolution of solar policy in Mexico. — greentechmedia.com/events

Solar Power Northeast

Where: Boston, MA When: February 5–6

Formerly known as PV America, Solar Power Northeast will bring 70 exhibitors and 1,500 solar and storage professionals together in Boston. The 2-day Solar Power Events–produced conference features multiple technical tracks such as energy storage, operations and maintenance, business and technology, policy and regulation, and more. Tickets for the networking reception are sold separately. — events.solar/northeast

Solar Power Southeast

Where: Atlanta, GA When: May 15–16

Also produced by Solar Power Events, Solar Power Southeast had a sold-out exhibit hall in 2017, pulling 40 exhibitors and more than 600 attendees. Attendance has grown every year since the inaugural event in 2015, paralleling the growth of the regional solar market. Like those of other regional events, the agenda is tailored to companies doing business in the area or those that would like to do so. The schedule covers everything from state policy and regional business opportunities to solar-plus-storage and electric vehicles. Previous years have featured a full-day preconference workshop as well as after-hours networking events. — events.solar/southeast

Solar Power Texas

Where: Austin, TX When: June 5–6

Another Solar Power Events–produced conference, Solar Power Texas serves the state of Texas, which famously operates its own independent electrical grid. In 2017, Solar Power Texas drew 400 attendees and had a sold-out exhibit hall. The program centers on trends and policies that impact the growing solar and storage markets in Texas. Proceeds from the event—and all others that Solar Power Events produces—benefit SEIA’s and SEPA’s year-round research, education, communications and outreach activities. Last year, Solar Power Texas featured a full-day preconference workshop as well as an after-hours networking event at Stubb’s Barbecue. The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa is the host site. — events.solar/texas


David Brearley / SolarPro / Ashland, OR / solarprofessional.com

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