FROM THE CREW: Solar Industry Hits High Notes

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Solar Battle of the Bands
Solar Battle of the Bands at Intersol 2014

A year has gone by since I attended Intersolar 2013 and wrote about the disappointment of solar marketing with “booth babes.” I am happy to report about some notable industry conference trends in that department. Having attended Intersolar in San Francisco this July (held in partnership with the ASES national solar conference), I noticed a significant decline in “booth-babe” marketing stunts. Other positives were networking events, forums, and panel discussions specifically designed for promoting women working in the renewable energy industry.

When it comes to employment in the solar industry, men outnumber women five to one, so I think it is fantastic to see efforts made toward evening the gender gap. At the panel discussion, Anna Bautista from Grid Alternatives, Jan Hamrin of HMW International, Claudia Wentworth from Quick Mount PV, and Christie McCarthy of Vista Solar and Creotecc provided inspiration to women looking to enter or advance in the solar industry by sharing their personal stories of where they came from and how they have navigated their way to become key industry players.

Further displaying their creative and progressive nature, Claudia and Christie have helped establish another great conference event—the Solar Battle of the Bands (SBoB). SBoB showcases the musical prowess of solar industry insiders, and as a music-loving solar nerd, I consider this event “betta’ than Christmas.” Looking across the dancing crowd, all you can see are thousands of smiling eyes beaming at the stage in appreciation for all our shining solar brothers and sisters.

Founded in 2011 by Johan Alfsen and Meghan Vincent-Jones of Quick Mount PV, this event has grown from 500 attendees in 2011 to more than 1,200 this year. This event was born out of a desire to bring two passions together—music and solar—and has risen to become perhaps the best marketing and networking event solar conferences have to offer. This year, bands from five companies—Exosun, Inovateus Solar, RGS Energy, SolarCity, and Sungevity—competed for best band.

The 2014 SBoB started with Christie McCarthy—backed by Quick Mount PV’s house band, Northerner and the Rafters—singing her original solar anthem, “Rise and Shine.” This year’s highlights included Exosun’s Exoband from France (complete with striped shirts, berets, and a keytar), who offered up songs from the White Stripes and Daft Punk, and even added a fun French number—“Je Veux du Soleil” by Au P’tit Bonheur. Inovateus Solar’s Reverend Ray and the Everlasting Incentives provided great stage antics and costumes (i.e., lots of sweat and sequins), classics from the Rolling Stones and an original song, “New Paradise,” written for the industry and a clean-energy world. SolarCity’s The SoulMetrics delivered an impressive performance including Mumford and Sons’ dreamy “I Will Wait.” RGS Energy’s Public Energy #1 performed a fantastic guitar solo during “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf. But it was the reigning champs, Sungevity’s The Killa Watts!, who took the title again this year with their funky soul sound, including “Jungle Boogie” and “Leave My Kitten Alone.”

At the end of the night, we are left marveling at how companies that compete every day for our solar business can come together in harmony to create a wonderfully fun event.

Web Extra

Listen & watch the SBoB at solarbattleofthebands.com.

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