SAN DIEGO--A walk around the conference floor at the Solar Power International conference will quickly teach you that solar energy comes in more shapes than the flat rooftop panels you see on people's homes.
At the conference, there were a number of companies that do solar concentrators of various types, which use lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells.
These new-fangled devices are aimed at either businesses with rooftop space or utilities, many of which have to meet state mandates to purchase renewable energy.
The flat-panel business is very active as well. Manufacturers are ramping up operations and exploring new thin-film cell technology to reduce the cost of delivering a product.
Solar hot-water systems, meanwhile, have a quicker payback than solar-electric installations.
Outside the conference floor, San Diego is home to a number of corporate solar installations. Conference organizers led a tour of a few solar arrays at businesses and nonprofit organizations.