As we mentioned on Monday, the show has been abuzz with the strong Q2 numbers announced at the outset of the conference and the keynote by Bill Clinton, who spoke yesterday afternoon and brought down the house.
But from a market and PR perspective, here are a few key trends we’ve noticed from our conversations with our clients, media and analysts at the show:
Quantity down, but quality up—SPI is still a behemoth, but attendance is unmistakably down this year. That being said, while most companies we spoke with said the show is slower than previous years, they’ve also said that the meetings were both more productive and with higher-value decision makers.
This points to a sign we’ve seen on the horizon for a while—the hype might be down, but the market is maturing and the average player is now more serious, and has a less flashy, more responsible business to promote.
This is important for the industry. As Jason Morris, executive vice president at Schwartz MSL’s Cleantech Practice, said recently in an interview with Lindsay Morris at Power Engineering:
“Where Solyndra and other companies got into trouble was they set very high expectations and fell dramatically short. The industry has to take the approach of under-promise and over-deliver – pointing to real successes.”
Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico—Puerto Rico as an emerging market was a huge topic at the show. The most obvious reason is the venue: With Orlando being more than 1,000 miles closer to Puerto Rico than the Bay Area, you could expect a larger ratio of Puerto Rican representatives than most cities.
However, there’s more to the U.S.’s “51st state” being on everyone’s minds. Puerto Rico is increasingly on solar companies’ priority list as it establishes more solar incentives and programs. Just recently, for example, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) expanded its net metering program for projects up to 5 megawatts.
Island nations and states have proven great candidates for solar, as many have to ship in diesel or oil for power, which is both expensive and insecure. If you're a solar marketer evaluating new markets to focus on, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and other island nations should be at the top of your list.
SPI: Now firmly a U.S. show?—Many companies we met with have remarked on the significant drop in international attendees this year. If this trend continues, it will mean that solar marketers will have to engage in more European, Latin American and Asian PR strategies and programs, if they want to tap into those markets.
We’re excited for the rest of the show, and will continue to share our thoughts. Another reminder, if you haven’t already, take a look at our new e-book on our 2012 summer survey of cleantech, energy and sustainability reporters and analysts.
Posted by Dan O'Mahony on September 12, 2012 at 5:09 PM