Public Release: 

Solar experts gathering at ORNL for summit

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sept. 14, 2007 -- Solar energy will be in the spotlight as researchers, engineers, architects and other renewable energy experts from the region convene at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oct. 24-25 for the first Southeast Solar Summit.

Among the displays will be an Arizona Public Service 5-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array that will be providing electricity to one of the laboratory buildings. The array uses Memphis-based Sharp Solar's photovoltaic modules. A concentrator photovoltaic system from JX Crystals will also be on display. Others participating include Lakeland Electric, Georgia Institute of Technology, Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar Electric Power Association, Lightwave Solar Electric, Sterling Planet, Tennessee Valley Authority, North Carolina Solar Center and Florida Solar Energy Center. The event is co-hosted by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and co-sponsored by the Department of Energy, TVA, the state of Tennessee and Solar Energy Industries Association.

While the desert Southwest is often associated with an abundance of sunshine and potential solar energy, Melissa Lapsa, manager of ORNL's solar technologies program, noted that solar energy use is increasing worldwide. In fact, Germany is the fastest growing market for solar cells producing photovoltaic energy, adding significantly more electricity to its electric grid than what has been added in the United States.

"In the Southeast, the average amount of sunlight available for producing electricity is twice that available in Germany," said Lapsa, who noted that the time is ripe for a solar summit.

"Within a few hundred miles of each other we have some of the nation's best and brightest in the area of solar energy and photovoltaics," Lapsa said. "This summit will bring those people and their organizations together to focus on new opportunities to promote collaborative solar research and development and market transformation in the Southeast."

Attendees will include energy managers, policy advocates, executives from industry, utilities and the public sector; educators, researchers, economic development specialists, community action agencies, builders, legislators, students and community planners.

One of the highlights will be an address by Chris O'Brien, chairman of the board of Solar Energy Industries Association and vice president of Strategy and Government Relations for Sharp Solar. Sessions will focus on all aspects of solar research and development and strategies to bring technologies to the market.

Tours of the near-zero energy homes in Lenoir City, the Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm near Oliver Springs and the Spallation Neutron Source will be offered. The near-zero energy Habitat for Humanity homes boast electric bills as low as 41 cents per day while the wind farm features 15 1.8-megawatt turbines atop Windrock. A workshop on hybrid solar lighting will also be offered.

Also scheduled is the unveiling of ORNL's Center for Advanced Thin Film Solar Cells, a new user center consisting of four adjacent laboratories that will be focused on photovoltaics research and development and will include a variety of diagnostic capabilities. Solid-state lighting research will also be conducted in the facility, dubbed CATS.


Registration and additional information about the summit is available at

UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.

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