Fact Finding Missions Archive

2012 Missions

U.S. Fact Finding Mission to New York and New Jersey

Renewable Energy Integration Fact Finding Mission to Germany

2011 Missions

U.S. Fact Finding Mission to Southern California

Fact Finding Mission to Italy for Utility Decision-Makers

2010 Missions

Fact Finding Mission to Japan

2009 Mission

Fact Finding Mission to Spain

2008 Mission

Fact Finding Mission to Germany

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U.S. Fact Finding Mission to New York and New Jersey

SEPA went east for its second annual U.S. Fact Finding Mission in 2012. The one-week tour brought utility executives and managers to solar sites in New York and New Jersey. The emphasis of the tour was on a first-hand observation of how utilities in the region are designing and managing solar programs for customers, investing in utility-scale projects, and handling interconnections and grid integration issues. This tour included an inside look at New Jersey - one of the most dynamic solar markets in the U.S. Three New Jersey utilities secured top 10 positions in SEPA's 2011 Utility Solar Rankings report.

Attendees heard from experts at several of the region's most solar-active utilities, including:

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • ConEdison
  • New York Power Authority
  • PSE&G
  • Atlantic City Electric
  • Long Island Power Authority
  • And more!

In addition, the mission explored the challenges of incorporating solar into urban grids, discussed and observed the development of solar at brownfield sites, and learned about innovative business models linking utilities with non-profits, community organizations and industrial customers.

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Renewable Energy Integration Fact Finding Mission to Germany

For the fifth international mission, SEPA returned to Germany, the site of the first mission. Although its solar resource is on par with that of Anchorage, Alaska, Germany continues to lead the world in solar capacity. Of Germany's 17 GW of solar, most has been installed in the past five years. The drivers for this dramatic growth are supportive national policies, including a feed-in tariff (FIT) that is currently the subject of intense debate across Germany. U.S. utility executives and managers learned how the FIT has evolved, how successful it has been in achieving its goals, and how German utilities are responding to the integration of large amounts of distributed solar and other renewable resource generation into their systems.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff stated at a recent Arizona Solar Summit, that we should be looking at how Germany is managing its renewable energy market. “We should be able to learn from them…We haven’t pursued that extensively," (Phoenix Sun).

View the agenda here. View photos from the Fact Finding Mission in SEPA's Flickr group.



U.S. Fact Finding Mission to Southern California

For the first time, SEPA brought its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) to the United States. The purpose of the program was for utilities to learn from one another's experience and to gain perspectives on solar technology and policy first-hand. In the U.S., solar has grown rapidly and is becoming more popular across the country. California, where the largest growth started and still continues, was a natural choice for the debut of a domestic Fact Finding Mission. Participants spent a week engaging with Southern California utility counterparts, government officials and solar industry representatives. They also saw first-hand examples of how the region is developing a sustainable solar market and how they are preparing technically for even greater solar integration in the future.

Fact Finding Mission to Italy

In 2009, Italy became the second fastest growing solar market in the world. With SunEdison's completion of the 70 MW Rovigo solar plant, Italy is now home to the largest single PV power plant in Europe. Supportive policies and (more recently) efforts to improve the authorization process have contributed to this explosive growth.

The SEPA delegation traveled to Italy and learned:

The factors behind this expanding market and the new policies put in place to promote the sustainability of the market.
How solar growth is impacting utilities and other participants in the energy sector and how they are responding to new challenges.
The barriers to increased integration of solar and the opportunities for continued growth.
The factors impacting the sustainability of Italy's solar market.
Lessons U.S. utilities learned from their colleagues in Italy on the growth of solar in Italy and their role in this market.

This was an invaluable learning experience and an unparalleled opportunity for the utility delegates to network with their peers. The group met with key utility players as well as representatives from the Italian government, the solar industry and the solar and utility associations. They also met with other solar stakeholders and visited several solar power plants as they traveled through Italy with stops in Milan, Venice and Rome. View the itinerary here.

Click here to view the report.

Fact Finding Mission to Japan
Each year, SEPA leads a group of utility leaders beyond the U.S. border to learn about solar market development in another country. In July 2010, SEPA took a group of 18 utility executives and managers to Japan. The “Land of the Rising Sun” has been an early leader in solar technologies with a sustainable long term rooftop PV market, and currently has ambitious goals to regain its leading position that it lost to Germany in 2004. With a strong focus on developing solutions for the integration of high penetration level of PV into the grid and a national policy that sets a clear direction for the future of Japan’s energy supply, Japan has provided an excellent learning environment for the SEPA delegation. The Post-Trip report is available here.

Fact Finding Mission to Spain
In May 2009, SEPA took a group of 16 utility executives and managers to Spain. In 2008, more than 3 gigawatts of solar electricity was integrated into the Spanish grid, resulting from a high feed-in tariff with no market limits; 98 percent of the installations were ground-mounted and only 2 percent roof-mounted. Spain provided an excellent learning environment for the SEPA group, which explored both photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal electric installations during the trip. Upon returning from the trip, SEPA hosted a webinar to share lessons learned with all its members who weren't able to make the trip to Spain. The MP3 of the webinar is available for download.

Fact Finding Mission to Germany
 In June 2008, SEPA took a group of 31 utility executives and managers to Germany. Germany is one of the top photovoltaic markets in the world, largely due to its long-established feed-in tariff program. The country has developed both rooftop and ground-mounted PV market segments, as well as a strong manufacturing base. A summary report of the trip and its findings is available to members and non-members