I warn that I may be provoking the renewable energy event planning industry with this May Recruiter's Outlook. But there has been so much trade show and conference consolidation over the past few years, and our newsletter subscribers deserve to hear about the changes first-hand. As context, over the past 13 years, EnergeiaWorks has been an active member and participant of SEIA, ASES, CALSSA and AWEA/ACP, and has sponsored and programmed many events at Intersolar, SPI, RE+, WindPower, and CleanPower.
Being a 23-year trade show veteran, I am a huge advocate of the in-person engagement and network-building that these events foster. I've been able to scale two businesses over my career because of the relationships that have started on an exhibition floor or hotel lobby bar (and a few shared Ubers!). EnergeiaWorks has literally attended 90% of all the industry events over the past 13 years, so we have a very good barometer on the recent changes. Not to mention that we also run an event series that has hosted over 25,000 industry professionals since its inception.
In its first year being held in San Antonio, the 2022 CleanPower still felt like its predecessor WindPower, at least, a scaled back version from the packed conferences during the years of the PTC wind heyday. The conference, though rebranded, didn't succeed in diversifying its attendees to branch out from its base of wind energy professionals. However, the 2023 CleanPower showed a stark difference and improvement — the exhibition floor was fully balanced between wind, solar, and energy storage exhibitors. Kudos to ACP for successfully making this transition! As a military veteran, my highlight was getting to hear General Stanley McChrystal talk about leadership, making mistakes, and learning to make decisions with less-than-perfect information. I also got to participate in the ACP-organized 5K race through the streets of the French Quarter. Given the early bird start time and the humidity, it was a great life experience!
While I love New Orleans, its food, music, and culture, was it the best venue for ACP? Louisiana isn't exactly leading the country in renewable energy installments. In fact, I think it was a stretch for ACP to arrange a tour of an oil & gas port facility that "might" support the Gulf of Mexico's offshore wind industry. At least next year, ACP will be held in Minnesota, which has one of the top community solar programs in the country and more closely aligns with the renewable mission.
I'm hoping that RE+ follows suit in Las Vegas this year in broadening the attendance pool. Yes, last year they boasted about having 27,000 attendees, making it not just the largest renewable energy conference, but the largest energy conference in the US, but it felt like a solar conference with a side of Energy Storage International. Were wind exhibitors present? If so, I missed them. I'd love to see some technology diversity on the exhibition floor this year. ACP did it, let's see RE+ do the same. And then, maybe someone can convince them to consider alternating the location and trying some cities outside of the west to encourage even stronger attendance.
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