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Happenings from around Solar Power International

October 14, 2010 | 12:32 pm

Solar Power International, the solar-industry confab taking place in Los Angeles this week, comes to a close Thursday.

The conference, which sprawled across the downtown Los Angeles Convention Center, encapsulated many of the key issues the solar community was facing. Some of the sleekest booths belonged to companies from Asia, a burgeoning superpower in the solar industry. Firms better known for consumer electronics, such as Sharp Electronics Corp. and Samsung, presented their solar offerings. 

Participants also buzzed about several announcements made during the event, which is moving to Dallas next year. Check out a sampling below the jump.

• On Wednesday, Swedish retailer IKEA said it would install solar panels on 90% of its California stores by early nearly year. The eight stores will produce 4.5 megawatts of power, using nearly 20,000 panels. Locations include Burbank, Costa Mesa, Covina and San Diego.

• Something is amiss when it comes to prices for solar photovoltaics, according to a study released Tuesday by the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, an independent-watchdog branch of the California Public Utilities Commission. In a report titled “California’s Solar PV Paradox,” the division looks into the expenses of large, utility-scale solar installations, which seem to be rising even as the costs for smaller rooftop photovoltaics drop. 

• Los Angeles and Berlin, one of its sister cities, signed an agreement Wednesday to help each other develop local clean-tech clusters. The Cleantech Business Park Berlin-Marzahn in Germany hosts more than 2,500 companies, many working on solar cell and module manufacturing. Los Angeles officials, meanwhile, have long pushed to establish a CleanTech Corridor filled with innovative startups in a dilapidated industrial area of downtown L.A. 

• For the fourth year in a row, California leads the country in investments in energy-efficiency measures, according to a report Wednesday from the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Massachusetts was next, and North Dakota came in last. States allotted $4.3 billion to energy-efficiency measures last year, up from $2.5 billion in 2007.

• Solar power installed for utility use will boom nearly 400% by the end of the year, according to a preview of a report from AltaTerra Research released at the conference Wednesday. Utilities around the country will be able to tap 251 megawatts, compared with just 65 in 2009. The full report will be available Nov. 1.

-- Tiffany Hsu