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Renewable Energy World Conference Is Changing with the Industry

RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD 2008 opened earlier this week with keynote addresses by two well-known Nevada dignitaries. This is the fifth year for the conference and expo formerly known as Power-Gen Renewable Energy and Fuels. More than the name has changed. This article is your gateway to our coverage of this all-renewables conference.

Every imaginable kind of clean energy source is being shown this year at Renewable Energy World North America 2008, and every major issue will be discussed and analyzed by the time the conference closes on Thursday. An estimated 2,800 people are attending the conference, a modest increase over last year's 2,300.

Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

Yingli Solar attracted visitors with one of the largest and most elaborate exhibits at the conference.

Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

Xantrex is displaying its newest inverter, the GT100, for large solar arrays.

Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

Skystream's wind turbines are designed for small-scale installations, including residential.

The conference and expo opened this afternoon with keynote speeches by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, the Mayor of Las Vegas, and presenters from GE Energy and Xcel Energy. The auditorium and staging definitely got an upgrade this year, due in part to the change of venue from the Mandalay Bay to the Rio convention facility. The opening ceremonies gave the conference a new air of maturity.

Renewable Energy World magazine Chief Editor and keynote emcee Jackie Jones announced the already-obvious rebranding of the conference. Power-Gen Renewable Energy and Fuels has changed its name to Renewable Energy World North America.

Conspicuous by its absence this year is the American Council on Renewable Energy, the nonprofit organization that co-founded Power-Gen Renewables with Pennwell in 2004. ACORE maintained a high profile for the first four conferences; as emcee in those years, its president, Michael Eckhart, flavored the keynotes with his own brand of unabashed enthusiasm. ACORE is launching a trade show in conjunction with the government-run WIREC 2008 conference next month.

Attendees and exhibits

The expo hall opened yesterday evening with almost 200 companies exhibiting. That's an increase of about 30 percent over last year. Solar is by far the most widely represented technology, but wind, geothermal, biofuels, biomass, and waste heat energy sources are all here, along with related services.

Exhibitors tell me the prospects this year are an interesting mixture including utility management, electrical contractors and international delegations. Attendees on the show floor seem mostly to be trying to learn what's new and to discern the differences between increasingly similar product offerings.

There have been some notable transformations on the exhibit floor in the past couple of years. Attendees in previous years were greeted at the entrance of the expo hall by big names like Kyocera Solar, BP Solar, and GE Energy's large "Ecomagination" exhibit. These players have steadily retreated to small booths elsewhere in the expo hall.

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Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

Advanced Energy is showing its transformerless Solaron inverter for large arrays up to 333 kW.

Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

Alpha Energy Systems brought a pole-mounted configuration of solar modules, complete with balance-of-system equipment.

Renewable Energy World 2008 exhibit photo at Energy Priorities magazine

PV Powered has on display its latest commercial inverters, including the PVP30 (shown) and the PVP100.

Their migration made room up front for Yingli Solar, a Bio Energy Pavilion, a Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative Pavilion, and SkyFuel, all either newcomers or significantly expanded from their small exhibits last year. Throughout the hall, I noted a continued gradual improvement in the overall style and sophistication of exhibits here.


Educational sessions are organized into six tracks. The finance and technology tracks each include nine sessions on everything from tax rulings to turbine redesigns. Bio-power, bio-fuels, and transportation each have tracks of their own. The final track consists of case studies in renewable program successes and lessons.

Every new conference seems to struggle with a transition in which presenters must start leaving their marketing slides at home and arrive ready to educate attendees. Renewable Energy World has reached that transition, and a majority of the presenters here seem to understand what is required of them as speakers and panelists.

In the sessions I attended I would like to have heard more discussion and debate, but the introductory presentations -- informative as they were -- tended to take up most of the allotted 90 minutes.

Renewable Energy World 2009

Next year's conference will take place March 10, 2009, in Las Vegas.