Penn State SOLAR 2015 Conference Highlights Advances, Opportunities in Solar

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Professionals, academics and students from across the nation and world will discuss opportunities and developments in the solar industry, including solar science and engineering, energy economics, public policy, education and energy efficient architecture.

A participant at the 2008 ASES solar conference in San Diego examines a solar fan. Solar 2015 is being held at Penn State from July 28-30.

Solar isn’t just photovoltaics on rooftops anymore. It’s an entire industry, and it’s growing so fast.

Think solar power, and your thoughts may turn to sunny California or Florida.

But 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.

Brownson is conference chair for SOLAR 2015, the national solar conference of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). The conference, hosted this year by Penn State, is being held July 28-30 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

Professionals, academics and students from across the nation and world will discuss opportunities and developments in the solar industry, including solar science and engineering, energy economics, public policy, education and energy efficient architecture. There will also be a networking event for emerging professionals.

“Solar isn’t just photovoltaics on rooftops anymore,” said Brownson, associate professor of energy and mineral engineering and lead faculty for the solar option in Penn State’s online renewable energy and sustainability systems master’s program. “It’s an entire industry, and it’s growing so fast.”

Conference speakers include government and industry leaders, including John Hanger, Pennsylvania’s secretary of planning and policy, and Karl Rabago, director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center and a former U.S. Department of Energy deputy assistant secretary. Kim Walton, program director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Center at Grand Valley State University, will speak about “Solar in the Snow-belt,” and Hannah Masterjohn of the Albany, N.Y.-based Clean Energy Collective will address “community solar,” which helps people who are unable to install their own solar power systems get access to the benefits of solar energy.

The solar industry has grown enormously over the past decade and is poised for more growth as the cost drops and the technology improves, said Carly Rixham, ASES executive director. “Everything is bigger and faster and cheaper. Solar has become accessible to the masses instead of just to an elite consumer base.”

Penn State has leading researchers in all aspects of solar energy as well as extensive connections with both the power and electric industry and solar manufacturers, Brownson said. “The conference is a great opportunity for us to showcase Penn State as a leader in solar.”

Registration for this event has been extended until Wednesday, July 22. For more information about SOLAR 2015 or to register, visit the conference website.

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