SEIA - Innovation Recognized at SEIA's PV America Solar Conference

Industry highlights turning points in technology, financing, and policy

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today announced the winners of Industry Innovation Awards at the inaugural PV America conference and trade show in Philadelphia, PA.

“As we’ve seen in Philadelphia this week, the solar industry is continuing to prove it is generating clean energy and creating good-paying, green jobs,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Manufacturers are increasing production of PV panels, new installers are being trained every day, and consumers are eager to purchase them. Innovators like New Jersey utility PSE&G are leading the way to make solar power the cost-effective, clean energy option for homes and businesses throughout the Mid-Atlantic.”

During the conference, SEIA recognized the following innovations:

Innovation in PV Technology

  • Dr. Richard Swanson, founder, President and Chief Technical Officer of SunPower was recognized for his outstanding achievement in the development of SunPower’s high-efficiency, all-back contact solar cell. In 2003, SunPower announced that its all-back contact cell reached efficiencies greater than 20 percent, achieving 50 percent more energy than conventional solar cells.


  • Barry Cinnamon, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Akeena Solar was recognized for their new Andalay AC solar panel system. Building on Akeena’s award-winning racking and framing technology of their Andalay system, Andalay AC integrates Enphase micro-inverters into the panels themselves, eliminating 80 percent of the parts needed to install an ordinary solar power system as well as its complicated DC wiring. The resulting simplified installation process requires less training, and the fully integrated inverters allow for greater flexibility in system design and decreased engineering costs while providing a sleek, jet black attractive design.

Innovation in PV Financing

  • Jigar Shah, President of Jigar Shah Consulting was recognized for his game-changing innovation in solar financing by founding SunEdison and introducing the power purchase agreement to commercial solar financing. He saw that consumers wanted to install PV panels, but could not afford the upfront costs. Instead he saw that a company could be commercially viable by installing PV systems for no upfront costs, if the consumer agreed to buy the electricity produced by the system at a set price for at least ten years.


  • David Arfin, Vice President, Strategy for SolarCity was recognized for creating the company’s SolarLease, a first-of-its-kind solar financing option that allows consumers to install PV systems for a low upfront cost with an agreement to purchase the electricity produced by the system over a fixed period of time for a fixed cost. As fossil fuel prices fluctuate, consumers will achieve greater savings over time by paying a fixed price for clean solar electricity.

Innovation in Utilities

  • Mark Kehrer, Director of Finance for Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), was recognized for the Solar Loan Program that will provide nearly $105 million in loans for PV installations over the next two years to their residential, business, municipal, and non-profit electric customers. The program is intended to reduce the overall cost of developing, installing, financing, and maintaining projects by allowing customers to repay the loan over 15 years using solar renewable energy certificates (RECs) or cash.

PV America was presented by the national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 34th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) and the local Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) to bring together solar PV manufacturers, developers, and installers to market directly to businesses and consumers. PV America attracted over 2,300 industry attendees and 138 exhibitors. Additionally, more than 1,700 local residents attended Tuesday’s Public Day to see the latest innovations in PV technology and opportunities to install clean, affordable solar energy on their homes and businesses.

The second annual PV America will be in Tampa, Fla. from May 24-26, 2010. During Wednesday’s plenary, Resch announced that next year’s PV America has already sold 25 percent of exhibit space.