Sold-out SPI, largest solar convention in U.S., gets underway

Sold-out SPI, largest solar convention in U.S., gets underwaySolar Power International (SPI) kicked off on Oct. 17 with all booth space sold out, as the event moved from California to Dallas for the first time. It’s an auspicious start for the largest solar conference in the U.S., which is expected to draw about 21,000 attendees.

The conference is put on by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Energy Power Association (SEPA). The event is a hotbed of new product announcements, deals and a chance for solar industry players to trade ideas, make deals, learn about industry trends and business issues, among other things.

“Solar Power International is the must attend conference for businesses and professionals looking to break into the fastest growing industry in America,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA CEO said in a press release.

While it’s not the first time the show’s sold out, it is the first time the number of vendors was great enough to warrant booths outside the main convention center and the first time it has been hosted outside of California.

“For the first time for the show being outside the state of California, we’re thrilled about it. It’s a new market, and we’re very pleased to have that kind of a turnout,” said Brian Tully, executive director of the Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC, which organizes the show and is jointly owned by SEIA and SEPA.

But the show was getting too big for its britches in California.

“We were sold out last year. We were constrained by the facility in Los Angeles. We had sold out wall to wall,” Tully said.

This year it’s sold out, but at a higher level, he said.

That growth is expected to continue over future years, part of the reason it’s no longer being held in California, according to Tully.

solar convention in Dallas“We’re needing facilities that can accommodate our growth needs. California doesn’t have another facility we can go to that can handle our growth at this stage,” he said.

The show will go to other states in coming years as well. In 2012 it will be held in Orlando, in Chicago in 2013 and Vegas in 2014, for instance.

“Part of our reason for moving is it’s our responsibility to take solar to other states,” Tully said. “It’s the need to find facilities that can accommodate its growth. The event is a reflection of the industry it serves.”

Convention centers in Chicago and Vegas are among the country’s largest, according to Tully. And while SPI is growing too big for some convention centers, don’t expect it sell out all of either’s convention space too soon. The event will only be held in a portion of each center, he said.

Image courtesy of SPI’s Facebook page.