Conversation with Rod O’Connor

American Clean Power Association  |  Chief Commercialization and Engagement Officer

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This is the first full-fledged, in-person tradeshow since the event became CLEANPOWER. How have the last two years of COVID protocols helped you prepare for this year?

We are already back in person. We had 4,500 attendees who watched Vice President Kamala Harris’ speech from the floor of CLEANPOWER 2021 this past December.

CLEANPOWER is a must-attend event for leaders across the clean-energy industry, so we worked diligently to safely convene influential leading voices such as Dan Yergin, Gina McCarthy, and Larry Summers under one roof for our in-person event in Salt Lake City, Utah, last year.

This year, we’re excited to build on that success — and on those safety protocols – for an even larger CLEANPOWER in San Antonio, Texas. COVID gave us the opportunity to hone our safety protocols at other events like the Offshore WINDPOWER conference in October, where Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced to both the crowd and the country the administration’s historic goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind power by 2030. This year at CLEANPOWER, we’ll safely bring together the moment’s most influential leaders in-person again and cannot wait to see what other news and connections they will make — on-stage and off.

What can attendees expect in the way of presenters?

I won’t spoil any surprises, but I will say that CLEANPOWER pairs the leading voices from across the industry with the foremost decision makers to bring attendees behind the curtain of the conversations that shape our industry.

The presentations, combined with a 514,000-square-foot showroom floor featuring exhibitors from across sectors, creates a platform for collaboration on the most important issues for industry professionals and their companies. We’ve heard time and again from attendees how the information shared at these presentations and the opportunity to forge new relationships at CLEANPOWER have helped grow their business. Expect the biggest and most relevant players to make an appearance at CLEANPOWER.

The floor of the 2019 show held in Houston, Texas. (Courtesy: Kenneth Carter)

Will there be any presentations devoted to offshore wind?

Offshore wind is such an exciting part of the industry right now and we expect to host multiple presentations around it.

We currently have a call out for proposals and abstracts as we build the best program we can. San Antonio — where we are for CLEANPOWER — is just a short drive down I-10 from the Gulf Coast, where the Houston Ship Channel could be a key logistics hub for the industry as developers start to evaluate offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Mexico. We’re excited to hold CLEANPOWER near a potential hub for this growing industry and expect a significant focus on offshore — without compromising focus on solar, storage, onshore wind, and transmission. For now, stay tuned for more as the agenda develops at cleanpower.org.

How will the mix of other renewable sectors affect how wind-energy attendees will see the show?

CLEANPOWER’s programming is both broad and deep. ACP’s mission is to bring together not only the different technologies that make up the renewables mix — onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, storage, and transmission — but also the different segments within the industries: manufacturers, construction firms, owner-operators, utilities, financial firms, corporate buyers, and more.

We view this mixing of sectors to be a benefit to everyone — wind-energy sector included. As hybrid projects involving energy storage continue to proliferate for the wind and solar sector, the expo portion of CLEANPOWER is even more relevant than ever, and we’re sure that wind-energy attendees will find this useful.

That being said, there will also be plenty of specific focus on wind. There are estimates that 95 GW of onshore wind will be built between now and 2030. At the federal level, we are at the cusp of advancing policy to significantly accelerate the development of wind and other renewable energy projects. CLEANPOWER will gather all the pioneers of the wind sector in one place, so we expect to see real action and solidarity coming out of the conference.

With Texas being a leader in U.S. wind-energy production and the show’s venue being in San Antonio, are there any special tie-ins?

We are thrilled to bring CLEANPOWER to Texas — the renewable energy capital of the United States. With more than 35.7 GW of online capacity, wind energy is booming in Texas. When compared to other countries, Texas is the fourth largest wind producer in the world. This means there’s more to love about Texas than just the Tex-Mex and cowboy boots — the clean-power industry in Texas is an important job creator, employing a clean-energy workforce of more than 40,000 workers. Texas is poised to become the undisputed clean-energy power hub after leading solar installations in 2021 with over 3 GW built in 2021. Energy storage is also rapidly being deployed as we see more hybrid projects come online in Texas. Some say Houston is the energy capital of the world, but May 16-18, San Antonio is going to be the renewable energy capital of the world.

If I were a first-time exhibitor, what should I expect to gain by attending the show?

You should expect to develop a sense of community among peers and leaders of the clean-energy industry and learn about the latest, most innovative products, services, and technologies available to the industry.

With the full spectrum of the utility-scale renewables industry under one roof, the show provides unmatched, targeted access to thousands of qualified buyers and decision makers, helping exhibitors make the key connections they need to propel their businesses forward. CLEANPOWER is where you connect with all the major players in U.S. wind, solar, storage, and transmission in one place in one week.

Could you give a quick preview of what attendees will learn from ACP’s opening address?

As the association representing the voice of the renewable energy industry, we’ll be discussing the latest industry trends along with the present policy landscape from Washington, D.C., where we are actively pushing for tax credits and policies that will allow the industry to grow exponentially in this critical decade.

As the conference begins, ACP will release our Clean Power Annual 2021 — a deep dive on how the market and various sectors trended in 2021. Attendees will be among the first to know the top-level trends that drove our industry last year and get a look ahead into what 2022 brings.

We’ll also be highlighting the many ACP campaigns like our industry-wide Energy Transition for All initiative, which is designed to orient the industry to expand opportunities within the clean-energy sector for workers, especially those from transitioning energy careers and historically disadvantaged communities. The initiative also highlights local economic development and strives toward workforce and leadership teams that are representative of the communities that we operate in.

What are you personally looking forward to at this year’s show?

This is the preeminent clean-energy industry event of the year, with the biggest names in clean energy attending, exhibiting, and sharing ideas. I look forward to meeting more leaders across the industry to network and learn about their most pressing issues and needs, along with learning how ACP can be a resource for them at the show and beyond.

I love walking the trade floor, hearing stories, and watching member companies and exhibitors all coming together. You can feel the vast amounts of clean power, great ideas, and connections being made right there. We’re honored to host the forum for the transmission of these important ideas and connections and encourage businesses in the clean-energy sector to take advantage of this unique opportunity to bring everyone together.

More info cleanpower.org/expo