For reasons that relate primarily to oil and conspicuous consumption, the Persian Gulf emirates may not be the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of renewable energy.  Nonetheless the progressive monarchies of Abu Dhabi and Dubai seem to have not only room to think about renewables, but a real impetus to DO something about it.  Perhaps when you are sitting on top of a lot of oil, you realize how perishable and NON-renewable it is.

At any rate, January 19-21 have been the second annual World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, envisioned as a Davos-like gathering of energy experts, futurists, and technologists from all over the world.  Like a lot of gatherings on the beaches in that part of the world, it is probably quite a party as well, but our attention was taken more by the fact that there were a nearly staggering 132 solar-energy companies set to exhibit.  That includes all the giant PV makers, as one might guess, but when you finish counting the giants, there were still 122 smaller companies showing their wares.  http://www.worldfutureenergysummit.com/page.cfm/T=m/Action=Press/PressID=119.

Albuquerque-based privately owned Advent Solar was showcasing its Ventura(tm) PV technology (http://www.adventsolar.com/).  Santa Monica, CA-based, VC-backed SolarReserve was set to exhibit its Solar Power Towers technology, based  on a Rankine Cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankine_cycle, where thousands of mirrors concentrate desert sun to heat salt to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, melt it, and eventually use it to create steam to drive turbines (http://www.solar-reserve.com/technology.html).  Sounds unusual, but apparently it was sufficiently persuasive to get Citi, Credit Suisse, Nimes Capital, PCG Clean Energy and US Renewables to kick in $140 million during the depths of the financial collapse last fall (http://www.solar-reserve.com/pressReleases/SolarReserveFunding.pdf).

Representing the thin-film contingent were US companies like Toledo, OH-based Xunlight Corporation, affiliated with the University of Toledo (http://www.xunlight.com/Xunlight_Rabo_PR_082908.pdf), also a recent recipient of $11 million in financing from investors like Netherlands-based Rabobank and Trident Investors.

Xunlight Corp solar thinfilm panel (courtesy Xunlight)

Xunlight Corp solar thinfilm panel (courtesy Xunlight)

Bedford, MA-based Spire Corporation (Nasdaq:SPIR, http://www.spirecorp.com/company/index.php) sent its SpireSolar group (http://www.spirecorp.com/spire-solar/), characterized as a turnkey solar energy company, global in scope, with 35 years experience in PV technology. 

Also of interest: Arvada, Co-based ReflecTech Solar (http://www.reflectechsolar.com/), a maker of mirror film for solar concentrators; Lowell,MA-based Konarka (http://www.konarka.com/), with major energy-company investors and a lightweight PV thin-film product line; and Odessa, FL-based Dais Analytic Corp (OTCBB: DLYT, http://www.daisanalytic.com/index.htm), with a range of nanotech products.

That is a small sample of the WFES solar companies.  For more coverage, see Terry Macalister’s on-the-spot coverage in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/jan/21/renewables-oil).

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