Floor Chatter at Intersolar

17 July of 2009 by

SanFrancisco– Trade shows are my life. I spend at least 375 hours a yeartrolling around the hallways of cavernous convention centers gatheringsquishy balls and 9 x 12 glossy folders.

While some people despise them, I think they play an integral rolein the technology industry. They are the modern day equivalent of thetrade fairs conducted by the Hanseatic league. Besides, it gives me achance to socialize. Here are some of the tidbits from the floor atIntersolar that took place in San Francisco this year:

–More than one person talked about dust and debris and theeffect it could have on solar performance, particularly in desertnations like Abu Dhabi. It will also be a problem that Europe has totackle if it wants to get large amounts of power from solar thermalplants in North Africa. Skyline Solar, which makes silicon modules withreflective concentrators, argued that the design of its module may leadto less debris. Dew that forms on the concentrator will roll off,carrying some solids with it.

–David Gelbaum, the secretive investor behind the Quercus Trust,was allegedly in town. I didn’t see him. Then again, he might have beenthat guy in the Gavin Newsom mask.

–There are two companies using the name Solar Magic. NationalSemiconductor, of course, sells a product called SolarMagic to boostthe performance of solar modules. Meanwhile, a Chinese company calledHeze Solar Magic brands its solar thermal water heaters as solar magic.(National’s SolarMagic helps get around the debris issue by allowingsolar panels to act more independently.)

–Abe Yokell of Rockport Capital Partners stopped by. We chattedabout storage. One of the issues that will likely begin to crop up inthe hot, but almost nonexistent, storage market is the fact that theprice between expensive, peak power and cheap nighttime power isn’tthat great. Or at least maybe not large enough to justify buyingmillions of dollars worth of equipment to balance electrical loads.Still, Rockport is looking into storage investments.

–Meanwhile, Ron Kenedi, vice president of the solar energysolutions group at Sharp, recalled how years ago he and some colleagueshad fun rearranging the booth sign for then rival Solarex. The lettersin the booth marquee were moveable so they rearranged them to spell"oral sex". Solarex didn’t notice for some time, Kenedi recalled.

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