Penn State’s future was particularly bright this week as it hosted SOLAR 2015, the national conference of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). The event focused on discussing possible opportunities and developments in the solar industry.
Professionals, academics, and students from around the world attended the conference. Specifically, scholars discussed topics of solar science, engineering, energy economics, public policy, education, and energy efficient architecture.
At the conference, ASES Executive Director Carly Rixham spoke on how much the solar industry has grown over the past decade. Rixham credits the recent growth to decreases in cost and improvements in technology. Both of these aspects play a large role in making solar energy available to a larger consumer base, not just elite home and business owners.
“The impact of solar may be even greater in the mid-Atlantic region, where the power grid is dense and demand for electricity high – and there’s still plenty of sun,” said Penn State professor Jeffrey Brownson, SOLAR 2015’s conference chair. “Solar isn’t just photovoltaics on rooftops anymore. It’s an entire industry, and it’s growing so fast.”
Laura Dininni, local organizer of the conference, received incredibly positive feedback after speaking with the community about about the ASES conference coming to State College. “They like the vision of community that they see when they think of solar energy being the driving force behind it.”
To further bring State College and Penn State into the conference and to promote local solar energy, local businesses and houses using solar power will be on display during the conference. A 1:30 p.m. tour on Thursday will include the Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery as well as the student-designed MorningStar home. The last stop on the tour will be the future site of the affordable housing on University Drive, which is being designed as part of “Race to Zero,” a contest focusing on sustainable, low-cost, and energy efficient buildings.
“The conference is a great opportunity for us to showcase Penn State as a leader in solar,” Brownson added.