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Solar Power Day brings companies to campus

Solar-energy companies, faculty and graduate students gathered Oct. 15 to discuss the industry at the University’s first “Industrial Solar Power Day.”

The day, which featured presentations from local and regional companies, provided a dialogue about industry needs and faculty strengths, said Seshu Desu, director for the University’s Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP).

“The idea behind this is to bring (both sides) together, understand what the needs are and hopefully work on the relevant problems rather than the problems we think of,” Desu said. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Established in 2008 with $4 million in federal funding, CASP is part of the University’s New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging  (S3IP). CASP focuses on tapping into the sun’s supply of renewable energy and making it more accessible as a flexible, large-area and low-cost power source.

Potential applications include building energy systems, homeland security logistics and transportation.

“We want to be the backbone for the companies here,” Desu said.

Those companies were appreciative for the opportunity to discuss their products and learn more about CASP.

“This brings the industry players together with the faculty who are doing cutting-edge research so that we all can enhance our products,” said Michael Tentnowski, vice president for business development at Ioxus, an Oneonta-based company that makes ultracapacitors.

Gay Canough, president of ETM Solar Works in Endicott, provided an overview of the industry. The solar market and manufacturing have seen growth, she said, thanks to Europe.

“I truly believe that solar power is inevitable,” said Canough, whose company designs and installs solar energy systems and has built systems at the Tompkins County Library, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Department of Transportation in Kirkwood.

“Essentially, every place in the United States gets more sunlight than the sunniest place in Germany,” she said, referring to a country where solar power is on the rise.

“That’s another reason why solar manufacturers are setting their sights on the United States. We also have a better environment politically to expand the solar industry. And local politicians are starting to say, ‘This means jobs.’”

Canough sees solar research and implementation opportunities in longer-lasting lamination and connectors and new ways to reduce losses from shade.

Industry officials also were able to tour the Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory at the Innovative Technologies Center and the Center for Advanced Microelectronic Manufacturing Facility and the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing Facility (CAMM) in Endicott and receive a review of the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center from S3IP Director Bahgat Sammakia.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08