The annual solar industry conference, Solar Power International 2014, kicks off this week in Las Vegas. There's a lot of excitement going into this year's event.With solar now widely recognized as a competitive source of power, optimism about the industry's future is running high.
Growth will be a popular topic given solar's stellar performance of late. In 2013, solar was the second largest source of new build generation in the U.S., providing 30% of new generating capacity placed in service. The quarterly updates for 2014 indicate an even stronger performance is in the works for this year. Related to these conversations will be concerns about the damping effect ITC uncertainty and the US-China solar trade case may have on continued growth.
I'll be moderating a panel this year on one of the most important topics shaping the future of solar, grid integration of renewables. As solar's costs continue to come down, utilities and their customers are embracing solar as a low-cost source of clean power. Indeed, most mainstream analysts now agree that solar will play a leading role making an affordable clean energy future possible.
This change in solar's role brings new technical and regulatory challenges for the solar industry that could slow its growth trajectory. System operators and regulators have raised concerns about the grid's ability to accomodate large amounts of renewables. The industry will have to answer their concerns with credible technical, regulatory, and market solutions that provide a compelling vision of how such a system can work reliably and affordably.
California is emerging as the leading venue for these discussions. Our panel will talk about what we're learning from California's experience so far, what the latest research tells us about the future, and what the solar industry has to do to ensure a continued bright future. I'm looking forward to a good conversation.