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A solar energy association is an organization consisting of solar energy companies, and other various entities that seek to collectively promote solar energy power generation. These associations may encompass trade organizations, non-profit advocacy groups, or political organizations. Solar energy companies that sell solar components and services often provide financial support for these trade groups. Educating the public about the benefits or attributes of solar power is also commonly offered through a solar energy association.
Solar trade organizations bring various players together for collaboration and promotion of solar energy generation, often through paid memberships. Members of solar energy trade associations may go beyond just manufacturers of solar energy technology, and also include advocates of solar power, as well as those who are economically connected to the industry in various ways. Manufacturers that support solar power may do so for commercial reasons, since solar trade associations host events and often produce trade publications. Both of these offer promotional and advertising venues to manufacturers within the solar energy niche.
Nonprofit organizations may also be active in a solar energy association for a variety of reasons. These might include a mission to encourage a country to lessen dependence on foreign oil, or to offer an energy generation method that may be viewed as more sustainable than fossil fuel energy generation. Nonprofit solar advocates often engage in educating the public about solar energy technology. They may also award grants to encourage new technological development.
Governmental entities may be active in a solar energy association, too. Policy makers may tap solar energy association members for opinions, forecasts, or information that could influence government stimulus and offer targets for public investment. For example, a lack of manufacturing capacity in a particular area of solar manufacturing may be remedied, in part, through legislation offering tax incentives or credits.
Political activities are common to almost all trade associations, and solar energy associations are no exception. These activities may include letter-writing or publicity campaigns to advocate for various trade-stimulus measures, or favorable trade status. Government-funded research done in tandem with solar energy companies that are aided by public-private ventures is one example of a politically sourced activity. Often, with new technology, new product development support comes from the public sector, such as a research-oriented public university.
Educational activities are another common activity of solar energy associations. These may include outreach to the public, explaining how the technology operates, and potential applications of solar technology. Other outreach a solar energy association may engage in could involve helping consumers make wiser choices in buying and using solar energy. Sometimes, electrical generation companies support public demonstration projects that illustrate the benefits of solar power. They may also sponsor trade association efforts to increase the capacity of the solar energy market.