This September, a group of clean energy giants will convene in New Orleans, Louisiana, for the North America Smart Energy Week. The city of New Orleans is a significant location from which to host the national titans of sustainable development. Neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward are rife with gashed roofs from abandoned homes that remain unfixed fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana. The unequal post-climatic disaster aid distribution leave signature marks upon the landscape: flood stains remain visible along many lower-income houses, contrasting vibrant neighborhoods like the Garden District and French Quarter where well-funded reconstruction efforts have erased the hurricane’s impacts. The unfair recovery that characterizes post-Katrina New Orleans reveals how climate disasters can inflame socioeconomic inequalities.
The North America Smart Energy Week organizers hope to address the climate disaster inequity of New Orleans, and countless other cities across the nation, through their 2021 sessions. One of these sessions is “QuickTalk: Expanding Energy Equity Through Building Electrification,” in which speakers from Microsoft and the Energy Department will address how the future electric grid can be equitable for all communities, regardless of race or income. The session “Paying it Forward: Solar Moves Toward Equity Through Financing Structures” analyzes how local investments in solar can overlook particular communities and proposes national solutions so that all Americans gain access to clean energy.
Solar Power International (SPI), which is the largest solar energy event in the country, will headline the week of presentations. The remainder of the trade show extends beyond solar, attracting entrepreneurs from key renewable industries, including: wind, hydrogen, fuel cells, energy storage, microgrids, geothermal, and EVs. This diversity of technologies is the North America Smart Energy Week’s greatest strength; a resilient energy mix is diverse, accommodating numerous innovations rather than a single, hegemonic form of renewable generation. The show will include more than 700 exhibitors, with over 19,000 clean energy professionals in attendance. While the COVID-19 pandemic confined last year’s show to digital platforms, this year the trade show floor should be spirited and dynamic. Tickets for in-person attendees can reach $1,000 (networking opportunities included), but attendance at the digital exposition is free.
With luck, innovation in these private spaces will help society resist future climactic events. The North America Smart Energy Week offers a unique opportunity for startups and clean-energy mainstays to build relationships and accelerate decarbonization efforts. But the private sector, in its present configuration, cannot solve for the massive socioeconomic disadvantages that plague post-climatic disaster communities like New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. This conference’s organizers recognize the current inaccessibility of the solar market and advocate for a more equitable and green private energy sector as the technology reaches liquidity, which is vital for improving access to clean energy and protecting the nation’s largest populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
GreenWorldAlliance is excited to attend the North America Smart Energy Week, which will be held the week of September 20th-23rd. If you are interested in the trade show you can register here. We have been gathering expertise on solar energy, microgrids, and energy efficiency, which are key aspects of the event. You can read about solar energy on warehouses, intelligent lighting for businesses, and the future of microgrids at GreenWorldAlliance.org.