As Covid-19 continues its rapid spread, major events for the clean energy industry are being canceled or postponed around the world. In Australia, a premier annual conference organized by the Smart Energy Council (SEC) has been canceled for 2020 as the result of the pandemic.
Last month, the SEC announced that its Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition had been moved from 7-8 April to 29-30 September. As usual, it was supposed to take place at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour in Sydney. Although the organizer managed to secure new dates later this year, in the end, it had to make a difficult decision.
“It is with deep regret that, due to the ongoing implications of Covid-19, the Smart Energy Council is canceling its annual Conference and Exhibition for 2020,” John Grimes, CEO of the Smart Energy Council told pv magazine Australia.
Grimes said that the event would run at the earliest opportunity, once the SEC had received confirmation from government agencies that it was able to proceed, and it had sufficient confidence that it could provide a safe environment. “It is essential that the conference runs at full capacity, and amplifies the ‘buzz’ of the industry, to deliver maximum value to sponsors and exhibitors,” he said.
The decision was made following consultations with health experts as it becomes increasingly clear that mass gatherings of several thousand people are unlikely to be authorized “for some time, and not before the end of September 2020,” Grimes explained.
“The second element that has influenced this decision is the substantial economic downturn that will lag behind the health crisis and is already in progress,” he said. “We know most companies are rightly focusing on their viability and survival in the short to medium term, and are unable to make large marketing commitments.“
Many clean energy events in Australia have been postponed until 2021, while some have been moved to later dates this year. Meanwhile, Australia’s largest clean energy show All-Energy has issued no such information and remains scheduled for October 21-22.
“What we don’t want to do is hold an event where people are scared to attend, no international people can participate and where it is a strain, not a boost, for participating companies,” Grime said. “We especially want to create some business certainty in these uncertain times.”
The SEC said that exhibitors and sponsors at its Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition can choose to retain their booking and have it carry over to the 2021 event; or cancel their booking, and receive a refund of 50% of the total sale amount for the event.
Clean energy goes virtual
As the lack of interaction and opportunities to show off products and meet customers takes its tool, companies and organizations have come up with their own ways to keep the lines of communication open. For example, Israeli inverter manufacturer SolarEdge is planning to host a virtual solar show the week of June 15th, 2020. According to the company, the show will be a virtual fair where professionals can see, hear, and engage with others. SolarEdge will also be using a virtual booth tour to debut commercial and residential smart energy solutions being released to the market in 2020.
Outside of product presentations, attendees will have access to a lab tour, live training sessions, keynote sessions from industry experts and the chance to book personal meetings with SolarEdge’s product experts, sales representatives or international senior management teams. More information and early-bird registration can be found here.
For the SEC, webcast events are no novelty and it will continue to deliver its informative webinars throughout this challenging period. On May 6, it will hold a free online event dubbed the Stimulus Summit, which will seek to unpack the government stimulus packages for smart energy and renewables recovery; and climate change action.
Attendees can expect to hear from more than a dozen keynote speakers including influential Australians, CEOs of leading Australian businesses and renewables firms, and community and social change leaders, including the ACT and Western Australia energy ministers, economist Ross Garnaut, and champion of renewable energy Simon Corbell.
Additional reporting by Tim Sylvia