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Friday, April 13, 2012 10:53 a.m.

Solar conference speakers laud growth of sustainable energy sources

Timothy Simon

Commissioner of California Public Utilities Timothy Simon, spoke Thursday on the development and importance of solar technology at the fourth annual GW Solar Institute Symposium in Jack Morton Auditorium. Shannon Brown | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Justin Pennish.

Leaders in the solar industry discussed its upward-trending role in public policy Thursday at the fourth annual GW Solar Institute Symposium.

The symposium, the largest annual solar energy conference in the District, featured a keynote by Commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission Timothy Simon and panels with a host of experts on solar energy and development.

Simon highlighted California’s leading role in the production of renewable energy and emphasized that the market opportunity for solar energy will continue to increase in states’ energy portfolios. He said states should look to solar energy for protection against a rate shock as the price of gas increases.

Tom Kimbis, vice president of strategy and external affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the solar industry is growing at an unprecedented rate.

“By 2012, the U.S. is projected to become one of the world’s largest solar markets, alongside China and possibly Japan,” he said.

With the addition of an undergraduate sustainability minor and the construction of the eco-friendly science and engineering hall, Director of GW Solar Institute Ken Zweibel does not think it will be long before solar energy is a larger force on campus.

“It’s more of a logistical choice than an economic one,” Zweibel said.

He said he does not expect cost of solar upgrades to interfere with the University’s commitment to sustainability.

“Solar energy is on a very good pathway to cost reduction. This last year was one of the best years ever in terms of cost reductions of solar energy. With the way solar energy is packaged these days with incentives, funding shouldn’t be a problem because the price of electricity would come in competitively with what we’re already paying ” Zweibel said.

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