I met with Tom Ortman of Concurrent Design who recently started the Solar Energy Entrepreneurs Network (SEEN) along with Paul Ballentine of Freescale to foster networking among those working in the solar energy space in Austin and Central Texas.
They recently held their first meeting and received a greater than expected turnout -- over 150 attendees. Tom’s initiative catalyzes the discussion by focusing on solar energy issues and connecting people together to form and progress their business in this area. Tom plans to run meetings regular next year and is currently surveying the group to identify the needs.
There’s ample room for innovation in the area of solar energy. I recently tried to have a solar panel array installed on my residence. A 3.2Kw system goes for $22K but a rebate from the city cuts that price in half. And there’s also a $2K federal income tax credit on top of that. Unfortunately, my house had too much tree shading to make it worthwhile. In the end, I went with two solar powered attic fans ($700 each) that cut my electric bill by almost $100/month in the summer. I’m quite happy about that. In the area of solar energy p anels, I can see a number of areas in packaging, installation, and maintenance that could benefit from innovation.