This post is a bit late because the event has already happened (almost a month ago now), but it was my first time on a panel like this and I have been thinking through what happened quite a bit since then. For background, the event was hosted by the Clinton School of Public Service and the panel was moderated by the Arkansas Energy Office’s own J.D. Lowery. The official announcement was:
“Solar Energy Opportunities in the U.S. ” Panel
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
-This is a panel discussion about the current economic implications and future of solar energy in the U.S. and the South featuring John Smirnow, Vice President of Trade and Competiveness for Solar Energy Industries Association; Joe Thomas, CEO and President of MAGE Solar USA; Douglas Hutching CEO of Silicon Solar Solutions based in Rogers, Ark.
The first thing that jumped out at me was that I would be sitting at the table with some very intelligent people who were doing great things. John Smirnow is the VP of Trade and Competitiveness for the 1,100 member SEIA and Joe Thomas is the CEO/President of MAGE Solar USA who has ~160 employees and does $360M in revenue (in 2010). I realized the fact that Silicon Solar Solutions was even let through the front door means that we must be doing something right!
I always enjoy observing people and being at the front of the room gives you a good view to see how people are reacting to what is being said. I was impressed by the number of people who showed up for the panel and equally impressed by how much attention they actually paid to what was being said (the questions were evidence of that). It is incredibly easy as scientists/researchers/engineers (which is my background) to keep your head down as you completely focus on overcoming that next technology related hurdle. As we talked through the eventual possibilities of solar manufacturing in Arkansas (and potentially using our TAIC technology), it was evident how many people would be in support of this vision. This is something completely invisible from the lab/office environment where we spend most of our time.
We met some great people through the event and if you happened to be one of the people in attendance, what did you think?