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Community-Friendly Solar Conference Pushing Boundaries of Sustainability

by on July 26, 2015 4:00 PM

Penn State is harnessing the power of the sun this week.

Solar 2015 will feature three days of talks, workshops, and more on solar energy.

The three-day conference will run from Tuesday to Thursday and features nearly 100 speakers in the solar energy field.

Jeff Brownson, a Penn State professor and expert in solar energy, is the conference chair for the American Solar Energy Society's annual conference, which is being held at the Penn Stater.

"This is part of a new academic affiliation between ASES and Penn State formed a little over a year ago," Brownson says. "We’re very much a diversified conference. We have a proactive mission to build awareness about solar energy in general."

Brownson says the conference isn't a trade show, but more of a look into how the field is advancing through research in a number of key areas. Instead of just focusing on technological advancements, the conference also aims to go a step further by exploring the economic, legal, and community aspects of solar energy. 

"We’re actually moving the field forward in terms of research, and that’s research involving not just technology but also economic policies and community engagement," Brownson says. "This is community-based as well. We’re trying to build community awareness for the event. While it is a technical conference in that we’ll present new things that are happening in the field, it’s totally welcoming to community members and to people who are looking for change around solar energy and sustainability."

The conference is looking at solar energy in a new way, from building science and architectural applications to solar water heating and concentrating solar power.

Brownson says the conference is chock full of interesting talks on solar energy, but a few highlights stand out for him, including a talk from Pennsylvania Secretary of Planning and Policy John Hanger, a look at the legal aspects of solar energy, and an emerging professionals forum followed immediately by a networking event.

Penn State joining forces with the nation's oldest solar energy organization, which is in its 61st year, speaks to its growing focus on the form of sustainable energy. 

"I myself am a Penn State professor and work on solar energy for my career," Brownson says. "We at Penn State have been developing probably one of the strongest academic research teams toward solar energy in the nation and that’s spread across departments of geography, meteorology, energy economics, architecture and architectural engineering."

Solar 2015 kicks off on July 28 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. For more information on specific talks and workshops, visit the conference website here.

Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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