Solar sell

The exhibitors at the international summer trade fair were thrilled when they heard that the organisers of the renewable energy event were moving their show to a new purpose-built venue.

Not only would the new facility be a lot easier for attendees to reach by the local rail network, but it also promised to be a considerably more high-tech building in which they could show their wares.

To demonstrate their green credentials, the developers of the new building had applied and received a grant from the local government that they had used to construct a sizeable rooftop solar power plant – a move they recognised would particularly appeal to the exhibitors at the renewable energy trade show that was to be held there.

But the week of the event found a number of exhibitors less than excited by their new environment. While attendee figures were up on the year previously, the main hall of the building was uncomfortably hot and the exhibitors were perspiring profusely as they greeted potential customers on the show floor.

Many of them wondered why the new high-tech air-conditioning system in the new building had not been turned on, especially since it appeared obvious to all and sundry that the solar panels that had been installed on the roof could potentially provide more than enough energy in the summer months to power it.

After two days of sweating it out on the show floor, one of the exhibitors – a representative of a company that developed solar panels no less – decided to make a formal complaint to the organisers of the show. And so he visited their offices to let them know how he felt about the intense heat in the halls of the show in no uncertain terms.

Once there, the show manager explained to him that while the solar panels could indeed produce enough energy to power the air-conditioners at the show, he was rather embarrassed to admit that the power that they were generating, however, was not being used to do so.

That’s right. Rather than actually using the solar power to cool the new high-tech building itself, the developers of the new facility had decided that there was more profit to be made by selling the ‘free’ solar power that they generated back to the local energy utility.

As a result, the trade show organisers – who themselves only hired the building out for the duration of the event – had been faced with the uncomfortable decision to either pay to cool it with non-renewable energy or to cut costs and keep the air-conditioning system turned off – saving money for the trade show company and the exhibitors alike.

Needless to say, none of the exhibitors at the trade show were very amused by the news. It seemed rather ironic that while they were sweltering away promoting the use of renewable energy, they were powerless to use the very same source to cool either themselves or their potential customers.