A Call for Consolidation

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It’s a tough decision, and with each passing year, it only gets more difficult: which cleantech conferences should we attend? Which will offer the most interesting panel discussions? The most innovative technologies and thinkers? The best connections? Which are worth traveling to?

There’s the World Renewable Energy Forum here in Denver. That’s easy enough. And the Cleantech Open Conference and NREL Industry Growth Forum are musts for us. But there’s also the Cleantech Group’s annual conference, Cleantech 2012, CleanEdge and Greentech Media events, the Global New Energy Summit and many others. Expos for the green building industry, for smart grid technologies, vehicle electrification, energy storage and efficiency, solar and wind. All in addition to the many terrific university programs and government labs that sponsor annual events showcasing research projects with commercialization potential. And, of course, the countless investor summits around the country and around the world.

The invitations roll in all year, and the number of conferences seems to be proliferating despite worries that funding for cleantech startups is shrinking. Industry events can be money-makers and marketing bonanzas for conference organizers, and we’re certainly not opposed to that. But they can also be a drain on our collective time, attention and financial resources.

It’s time for consolidation.

Several industries dear to our hearts have seen a wave of expansion and exploration followed by a period of mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations and shutdowns. (This year it’s solar’s turn.) The process, while painful, is often described as a sign of market maturation. A step on the path to progress. Perhaps the same can be said of usif not now, soon.

Look at it this way: it’s an energy efficiency move. Let’s be more efficient with our time, with our money, and with our intellectual energies. Especially during this time of shifting sands in the federal funding arenas, let’s band together to create fewer events, and let’s make sure they provide everything we need. After all, wouldn’t you rather be spending more time, money, and mental energy on perfecting your technology and growing your business?

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