It’s an established fact already that for solar installers, staying updated on the happenings in the solar industry is a must. Luckily, since the solar industry is getting bigger and bigger as time goes by, there are various different ways to stay informed. The first one is to follow various solar online publications — from blogs to websites and e-magazines. The second one is to join solar forums and engage with the members there. And the third is to attend various solar events such as solar trade shows, and, of course, solar conferences.
What Is a Solar Conference? How Is It Different from a Trade Show?
Sometimes, people interchange the terms “solar trade show” and “solar conference.” To be fair, both events share some similarities, so the interchangeability is understandable. However, it’s still a good idea to determine the difference between the two.
Simply put, a solar trade show is an exhibition where businesses within the solar industry promote their products or services. It is where entrepreneurs engage with new customers or meet with decision-makers and other influencers in the industry. Basically, the primary purpose of a trade show is marketing.
A solar conference, on the other hand, is essentially a congregation of professionals in the solar industry. This is where they meet up for consultation, education, exchange of information, or discussion with a formal agenda. In other words, its main purpose is for education, as opposed to the purpose of a trade show which is for marketing.
The primary reason so many people confuse these two is that they oftentimes overlap with each other. Sometimes, a solar conference is an independent event on its own. But other times, it can be a part of a trade show. Sometimes even, there will be multiple conferences in just one trade show.
Aside from that, the prominent solar organizations that usually sponsor these conferences also sponsor a trade show. So, as you can see, a trade show and a conference have their overlapping similarities.
But whichever is the case — whether a solar conference is an independent event, or it’s part of a trade show — its purpose remains the same. This is where solar professionals discuss the matters concerning the status of the industry and the recent scientific and technical developments.
There are quite a number of solar conferences that you can attend. And if you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions for you.
- Website: https://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/solar-summit
- Location: Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, 4949 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, Arizona
- Next Time Event: May 2020 (TBD)
Solar Summit is the annual conference spearheaded by Greentech Media, a media company that is considered as one of the leading information service providers for the next-generation electricity system.
Been active for about 12 years now, it remains as the premier conference for defining the latest industry needs for installers, developers, system manufacturers, financiers, and regulators. The topics covered in this conference are the latest developments in global solar markets, module technology, how the ITC step-down will impact project finance, distributed solar emerging markets, and many more. Hundreds of people attend this conference every year, thus making Solar Summit not only long-running but also one of the biggest solar conferences out there.
Solar Power International
- Website: https://www.solarpowerinternational.com/solar-power-international/
- Location: Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Next Time Event: September 23-26, 2019
Solar Power International aims to connect people to the largest gathering of North American solar industry professionals and vendors. These professionals and vendors will share the latest insights that impact anyone’s solar business and showcase the newest products and services in the solar industry. SPI gives its attendees access to an attendee-base that represents over 24 segments of the industry, including installers, contractors, major utility companies, and more.
Aside from that, SPI is also the anchor and flagship event of the North America Smart Energy Week. Considered the largest gathering of solar, smart energy, energy storage, and hydrogen fuel cell professionals in North America, it brings together an extensive alliance of renewable energy leaders for four days of networking, education, and innovation for the industry.
With all this, it is then no wonder that SPI is said to be the conference that sets the standard for solar events. After all, it is the fastest-growing and largest solar show in North America, as recognized by Trade Show Executive and Trade Show News Network.
- Website: https://www.intersolar.de/en/home.html
- Location: Messe München Exhibition Center, Munich, Germany
- Next Time Event: June 17-19, 2019
Considered as one of the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry, Intersolar Europe focuses on the areas of photovoltaics, solar thermal technologies, solar plants, as well as grid infrastructure and solutions for the integration of renewable energy. Since being founded 27 years ago, it has established itself as one of the most important industry platforms for the solar industry among manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and service providers.
Intersolar North America
- Website: https://www.intersolar.us/
- Location: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California
- Next Time Event: February 4-6, 2020
Intersolar North America is the go-to event that connects innovators and decision-makers in the solar and energy storage industry. It provides B2B professionals with a platform to advance their business, expand education, and drive networking. Aside from that, the event tackles the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, smart renewable energy, and solar thermal technologies.
The Big 5 Solar
- Website: https://www.thebig5solar.ae/
- Location: Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Next Time Event: November 25-28, 2019
The Big 5 Solar is dedicated to the heavy construction industry, and it provides opportunities for one-to-one meetings and networking for professionals. An international large-scale exhibition, it attracts thousands of local and international exhibitors from over 18 countries every year.
Guangzhou International Solar Photovoltaic Exhibition
- Website: https://www.pvguangzhou.com/alone/alone.php?id=18
- Location: China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou, China
- Next Time Event: August 16-18, 2019
Another international event, Guangzhou International Solar Photovoltaic Exhibition is an exhibition for solar and photovoltaics. With numerous national and international exhibitors presenting a wide range of products and services for the industry, this event is a great opportunity to get an overview of the market and to establish new business contacts.
Solar Show Philippines
- Website: https://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/power-electricity-world-philippines/The-Solar-Show.stm
- Location: SMX Convention Center, Pasay, Metro Manila
- Next Time Event: May 2020 (TBD)
One of the world’s largest energy event show, Solar Show Philippines is a strategic conference that covers the market developments of the solar industry. This event has over 200 speakers, 8,000 attendees, and 250 exhibitors. Additionally, there are about 8 co-located events in this conference, with topics that range from solar energy to power and electricity, energy storage, and wind energy.
Floating Solar Conference
- Website: https://www.floatingsolarconference.com/
- Location: Rotterdam — Floating Farm, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Next Time Event: September 19, 2019
Floating Solar Conference stands out from the other conferences simply because this focuses on a particular technology of the solar industry. And that is — as the name of the conference suggests — floating solar.
As a result, this conference aims to clarify the issues that surround floating solar. These issues include a lot of unclarities that exist around the alleged efficiency gains of floating solar, the positive or negative environmental impact, and the effect of water on the maintenance of solar panels. Aside from that educational goal, this conference also plans to explore the promising frontiers of hydro-power-connected and offshore photovoltaics.
Solar Canada Conference
- Website: https://solarcanadaconference.ca/
- Location: BMO Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Next Time Event: May 2020 (TBD)
Considered as Canada’s largest solar energy conference, Solar Canada Conference is a must-attend event for solar energy professionals, stakeholders, and advocates. Aside from discussing the latest innovations, technology, trends, and visions the industry has to offer, this is also where people network and build relationships with Canada’s most important solar energy professionals.
Solar Wind-Earth Energy Trade Show
- Website: https://sweet.or.kr/fairDash.do?hl=ENG
- Location: Kimdaejung Convention Center, Gwangju, South Korea
- Next Time Event: March 11-13, 2019
Solar Wind-Earth Energy Trade Show — oftentimes referred to as SWEET — aims to provide opportunities for the largest scale business anyone has ever seen and network formation between New and Renewable Energy Companies. It has been around for over 14 years now, and it tackles a wide range of topics. Some of the topics include solar, wind power, secondary cell, power transmission and distribution, energy efficiency, bio- and unused energy, and many more.
- Website: https://www.exposolar.org/2019/eng/main.asp
- Location: KINTEX Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
- Next Time Event: June 19-21, 2019
The International Solar Energy Expo and Conference, or EXPO Solar for short, is the only Korean photovoltaic exhibition that represents Asia. This event presents a glimpse of the changing dynamics in the global solar market. Aside from that, it also showcases the latest technology and products, such as high-efficiency solar cells and cost-cutting manufacturing solutions. EXPO Solar is quickly becoming the Qualified Business Trade Show, and it is attended by over 40,000 visitors from all over the world.
International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference and Exhibition
- Website: https://www.snec.org.cn/HomePage.aspx?lang=en
- Location: Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC), Shanghai, China
- Next Time Event: June 4-6, 2019
The International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference and Exhibition are hosted by the Global Green Energy Industry Council (GGEIC), Global Solar Council (GSC), and the Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association (APVIA). And this event provides its attendees — which are over 100,000 every year — with the opportunity to explore every section of the whole PV industry chain. This would include the exhibit of PV manufacturing facilities, materials, PV cells, PV application products and modules, and PV project and system.
India Solar Week
- Website: https://events.firstviewgroup.com/IndiaSolarWeek2019?lang=en
- Location: Aerocity Central, New Delhi, India
- Next Time Event: July 11-12, 2019
A two-day conference program, the India Solar Week Event is India’s largest utility-scale solar industry event. This conference focuses on the individual roles played by all the parties in the solar sector, namely various OEMs, EPC players, developers, financial institutions, and many more. Additionally, it also focuses on the latest trends in the technology, performance, and business scenarios that shape the future of the industry.
In other words, India Solar Week aims to open up new business opportunities for the whole of the solar energy value chain. It brings together technology leaders, project developers, industry advisories, financial experts, government representatives, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to debate the key challenges and opportunities in construction, engineering, technology, and commercial space of the solar industry.
Power and Energy Africa
- Website: https://www.expogr.com/kenyaenergy/
- Location: Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya
- Next Time Event: July 25-27, 2019
Power and Energy Africa is fast becoming one of the most important fairs in all of Africa. And it is supported by highly active organizations such as the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry, MATRADE, African Business Development Association, and many more.
The market of the solar industry has been getting immense attention from global manufacturers and exporters seeking tie-ups with importers in Africa for oil, gas, and renewable energy sources. As a result, this event allows solar manufacturers and the like to showcase their products an services to the industry’s largest gathering of qualified decision-makers.
Renewable Energy Show
- Website: https://www.savorbd.com/renewable-energy-2019.php
- Location: International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB), Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Next Time Event: April 2-4, 2020
The Renewable Energy Show aims to provide a platform for all the stakeholders who are related to the renewable energy industry. This is where they can display their smart products, brand, and activities that focus on the latest innovations and market trends. Additionally, they also get the chance to meet with industry experts, influential decision-makers, and clients to discuss the next generation solutions and many more.
Conference on Renewable Energy and Climate Change
- Website: https://statnano.com/event/2240
- Location: London, England, UK
- Next Time Event: September 9-10, 2019
The Conference on Renewable Energy and Climate Change provide an acting stage for energy integration, and it is attended by about 200 delegates every year. Its primary objective is to discuss the transition towards a low-carbon economy that will ultimately result in the overall global growth. Some of the conference’s prominent topics are renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.), bioenergy, green energy and economy, energy storage and conservation, and zero-emission transportation revolution.
- Website: https://www.energy-lebanon.com/
- Location: Seaside Arena, Beirut, Lebanon
- Next Time Event: June 18-21, 2019
Energy Lebanon is the only show in Lebanon that is dedicated solely to energy and designed to cover all aspects of the sector. It is held concurrently with Project Lebanon, the 24th International Exhibition for Construction Materials and Equipment for Lebanon and the Middle East. This event places a special emphasis on sustainable solutions and environmental technologies, thus fueling Lebanon’s energy and water sectors.
Solar Finance and Investment Europe Forum
- Website: https://financeeurope.solarenergyevents.com/
- Location: Grange City Hotel, London, England, UK
- Next Time Event: January 29-30, 2019
As the name suggests, the Solar Finance and Investment Europe Forum focuses on the money side of the solar industry. This conference talks about how the subsidy-free projects are currently being funded and developed across Spain, UK, Portugal, and Italy, what oil and gas companies and utilities are planning in the clean energy finance space, and the state of the secondary market and the refinancing deal flow. Additionally, the attendees will get to meet top European asset owners, developers, banks and lenders, O&G company and utilities, and top EPCs in this event.
- Website: https://www.electricxegypt.com/en/Homepage.html
- Location: Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt
- Next Time Event: November 3-5, 2019
ELECTRICX, also known as Solar-Tec, is Egypt’s leading power exhibition and conference. It is held under the Patronage of the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy, and it has set itself as the central business hub for key regional and international market leaders in power generation, transmission and distribution, and renewable energy. This is a perfect place for solar manufacturers and installers to expand their business and achieve all their marketing goals and generate desired leads, considering that there are over 11,000 trade professionals and buyers in this event.
- Website: https://powertrends.leverageinternational.com/
- Location: SMX Convention Center, MOA Complex, Manila, Philippines
- Next Time Event: September 3-4, 2019
Active since 1995, PowerTrends is the longest-running energy show in the Philippines. The event covers all technologies, trends, and issues that are related to the energy sector. It incorporates three events:
- PowerTrends focuses on power generation, transmission, distribution, and management.
- Energy Expo focuses on renewable energy, natural gas/LNG, oil and gas exploration, coal mining and processing, and energy efficiency and management (including Smart Sustainable Cities).
- Electech/Lightech focuses on electrical technologies and lighting. It also focuses on the latest technologies for energy efficiency and lighting.
Essentially, PowerTrends aims to bring together key business leaders, vendors, developers, institutions, and principal energy policymakers who are responsible for the development of the Philippine energy sector.
Solar Asset Management Europe
- Website: https://europe.solar-asset.management/
- Location: Kap Europa, Frankfurt, Germany
- Next Time Event: October 30-31, 2019
Solar Asset Management Europe, or SAM Europe for short, is Europe’s leading conference that is dedicated to the optimization of the operational phase of PV plants and portfolios. This conference aims to unite the leading players to engage in meaningful dialogues that shape the European solar market in one venue. These leading players include asset managers, IPPs, utilities, investors, (O&M) service providers, manufacturers, developers, and advisors.
The National Sustainability Summit
- Website: https://www.sustainabilitysummit.ie/
- Location: Citywest Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
- Next Time Event: January 29-30, 2020
The National Sustainability Summit is designed as an engaging and thought-provoking event. It aims to stimulate its attendees to debate and help make the correct decisions to improve sustainability and profitability. Some of the topics that this event discusses are water management, energy efficiency, sustainable energy, recycling, waste reduction, sustainable constructions and buildings, sustainable technology, and many more.
Energetika & Elektrotechnika
- Website: https://en.energetika-restec.ru/
- Location: Expoforum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
- Next Time Event: June 25-28, 2019
Energetika & Elektrotechnika is an international exhibition of the power industry and electrical engineering. It is a meeting place for professionals in the field of energy, electrical industry, power industry, automation, and lighting equipment and technologies from all over the globe. It provides the attendees with the chance to meet producers of energy and electrical equipment — from converters and cables to gas and heat equipment for housing, and many more.
Iran Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition
- Website: https://irec.irrea.ir/
- Location: IRIB International Conference Center, Tehran, Iran
- Next Time Event: October 13-14, 2019
The Iran Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, or IRAN REC for short, focuses on Iran’s potential for renewable energy. It also features discussions on how to increase incentives for investing in renewable energy. Some of the highlights for this event are the available B2B meetings for those who want to expand their business area and meet stakeholders, workshops in support of the scientific aspect of the event, and the exploration of new policies and incentive actions.
- Website: https://events.solar/midwest/
- Location: Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois
- Next Time Event: November 14-15, 2019
Solar Midwest is focused on gathering regional stakeholders and industry leaders so that they can connect with those looking to grow their business in the region. They can also come to this event to gain a better understanding of the policy and business of the Midwest solar and storage market.
Electric, Hybrid, Solar Vehicle, and Eco-Green India
- Website: https://tradeshows.tradeindia.com/ehse/
- Location: NIMHANS Convention Center, Bengaluru, India
- Next Time Event: June 27-28, 2019
The Electric, Hybrid, Solar Vehicle, and Eco-Green India is a trade show and seminar in which the attendees have the opportunity to participate in the booming growth of electric, hybrid, and solar vehicle industry. This is also where they can explore the display of products like electric two-wheelers, solar vehicles, electric vehicle batteries, and many more.
Renewable Energy Expo Myanmar
- Website: https://www.renewmyanmar.com/
- Location: Novotel Yangon Max, Yangon, Myanmar
- Next Time Event: August 1-3, 2019
Renewable Energy Expo Myanmar is the only specialized Renewable Energy technology and equipment event that brings together an international congregation of government and private renewable energy companies, suppliers, and their supporting industries. It is in this event where they can showcase the latest developments in the renewable energy industry in Myanmar. Some of the highlights for this event are networking opportunities, renewable energy technology seminars, and renewable energy conferences.
- Website: https://ethioweetex.com/
- Location: Addis Ababa Exhibition Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Next Time Event: June 28-30, 2019
The Water, Energy, Electricity, Renewable (Solar, Wind) Energy, Technology Exhibition Ethiopia, or EthioWEETEX for short, offers a great opportunity for the foreign entrepreneurs, exporters, and other professionals to meet with local government officials, importers, domestic traders, and distributors. This is where they can expose their products and services and capitalize on the growing imports of Ethiopia, sell your products on the Ethiopian market as well as the markets from other African countries.
- Website: https://www.innovationsforum-energie.ch/
- Location: Zurich Marriott Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland
- Next Time Event: March 19-20, 2019
Innovationsforum Energie (Innovation Forum Energy in English) offers new solutions and business models for the energy future a framework for development. This is where topics such as digitization, decentralization, energy storage, and future-added value as well as a necessary framework for action are discussed. This event also focuses on the convergence of systems: for example, what consequences do Artificial Intelligence and new mobility have for our energy system, and how do the energy companies manage to establish an innovation culture with existing or new employees.
Innovationsforum Energie is an independent platform for decision-makers from utilities, industry, research, and politics. It also highlights current trends in the energy sector and provides a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the strategic and technical challenges of the energy market of the future.
- Website: https://www.ases.org/conference/
- Location: The Crowne Plaza Aire, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Next Time Event: August 5-9, 2019
The Solar Conference 2019, dubbed as “Race to Renewables,” represents the scientists, educators, and activists who can provide renewable energy technologies and solutions for climate action in the United States that will have an impact in the near future. Aside from the learning section of this conference, it will also provide a platform for its attendees to build a networking relationship with other solar professionals.
Solar PV ModuleTech India
- Website: https://events.firstviewgroup.com/PVModuleTechIndia2019?lang=en
- Location: Aloft New Delhi Aerocity, New Delhi, India
- Next Time Event: August 9, 2019
Solar PV ModuleTech India will discuss various market trends, drivers, and challenges that are related to the global photovoltaics market and its impact on India. It will also provide a bird’s eye view of the recent technology trends in the solar module industry while encouraging the attendees to engage in a discussion of practical solutions and ideas.
- Website: https://solarsouth.in/
- Location: Chennai Trade Center, Chennai, India
- Next Time Event: August 2-4, 2019
Solar South is India’s leading solar trade fair. A 3-day event, it’s a gathering of solar installers, manufacturers, and energy storage professionals where they can network with others. Aside from the networking incentive that this event offers, it also allows professionals to showcase their projects and products that are driving solar and storage to new heights of innovation and excellence.
Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference
- Website: https://www.mnseia.org/mnseia-gateway-solar-conference-2019
- Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Next Time Event: October 21-22, 2019
The Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference is a 2-day event that brings together solar industry practitioners from all over the country. It is known for robust and in-depth educational opportunities. Aside from that, this conference also provides its attendees with networking and exhibits in a relaxed, approachable forum.
New York Energy Week
- Website: https://nyenergyweek.com/
- Location: New York City, New York
- Next Time Event: June 24-27, 2019
Created by EnerKnol in 2013, New York Energy Week is an event that creates connectedness between energy market participants from across renewables, fossil fuels, utilities, regulators, finance, government, academia, law media, and many more. It exists to unite the fragmented sectors of the energy industry and include all disciplines that engage in the industry. Since its founding, NYEW has welcomed over 7,500+ senior energy leaders from all over the globe. It has also reached an online partnership network of more than 2.5 million energy professionals worldwide.
International Conference on New Energy and Applications
- Website: https://icnea.org/
- Location: The JICA Yokohama Center, Japan
- Next Time Event: November 9-11, 2019
The International Conference on New Energy and Applications, or ICNEA for short, aims to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners, and professionals from the industry, academia, and government to talk about research and development, professional practice in new energy and applications.
Aside from that, ICNEA is also the Annual Meeting of Editorial Board of International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy (SGCE). It also serves as a platform where authors and editors of SGCE can communicate face-to-face about hot topics in the field of new energy and applications.
Unlocking Solar Capital: Asia and Financial Summit
- Website: https://asia.unlockingsolarcapital.com/
- Location: Sands Expo and Convention Center, Singapore
- Next Time Event: October 30-31, 2019
The Unlocking Solar Capital: Asia and Financial Summit offer a range of opportunities to build and promote a solar professional’s brand to a diverse and focused group of high-level international and local stakeholders, including investors, financiers, project developers, EPCs, IPPs, and manufacturers. Moreover, this conference involves over 200 solar energy decision-makers and over 1000 high-level clean energy decision-makers from all over the world to network with.
The differences between a conference and a trade show
Trade Show – An exhibition for companies in a specific industry to showcase and demonstrate their latest offerings. Mostly closed to the public.
Conference – A meeting for consultation, education, exchange of information, or discussion with a formal agenda.
The solar industry is an ever-changing, ever-growing one. So it makes sense that solar installers should remain well-informed of the recent news and developments in this industry. Luckily, there are different ways to do that. Following solar online news sites and blogs is one, and engaging in solar forums is another. And a third good thing to do is to attend solar conferences.
There are a lot of solar conferences, both local and international. In fact, a more precise estimate is that there are over a hundred of them. And they can be found in all corners of the world: from North America to Europe, to Africa and then to Asia. Try to attend at least one conference every year — start with some of the ones mentioned in this list. Not only will your knowledge of the industry expand, but you’ll also get the chance to meet and build a possible partnership with like-minded professionals in the solar industry. It’s the ultimate victorious situation.
Rikki Suarez majors in Creative Writing and loves writing about renewable energy, clean technology, and solar power.