It's going to be a tough one. Spring is always full of way too many conferences and events in the cleantech sphere, but this year might just be the most crowded in history. The old standards are there like the big solar and wind trade shows, but there a bunch of new kids on the block focusing on specific topics like smart grids, energy efficiency, carbon trading and biofuels.

I've been asked several times to publish my schedule, and I have to say I just don't know yet. Here are my top contenders. Feel free to offer recommendations, or if I've left out a critical event let me know! In no particular order...

The Smart Grid Roadshow. April 6-7. Denver. 

"Over the past twelve months, Smart Grid has matured from a marketing buzzword to an industry strategy, with everyone from electric utility providers, to consulting and solution firms, to our country’s executive and legislative leaders referencing it as a key strategy for any number of objectives." Examines the key hurdles to overcome as a utility attempts to implement smart grid technologies.

Green California Summit. March 16-18. Sacramento. 

"If you want to understand what California’s state and local governments are doing to create healthy communities and a vibrant, green economy, you can’t miss the Green California Summit." Keynoted by Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley and Linda Adams of California EPA, as well as the directors of Apollo Alliance and American Council on Renewable Energy. Created by Green Technology Magazine.

Carbon TradeEx America. April 7-8. Washington, D.C.

"Carbon TradeEx America will be the most comprehensive event in the U.S. connecting climate policy, carbon markets, energy security, low carbon technology and the green economic recovery. Carbon TradeEx America will help you connect with thought leaders, senior decision-makers, and practitioners interested in one of the biggest policy priorities of the new Obama Administration." Created by The Climate Group and CMIA (Climate Markets and Investors Association). 

Greener Gadgets. Feb. 27, New York.

Definitely the hippest green tech event of the year. Created by the people behind Habitat, this event showcases the brightest product designers working on sustainable consumer technologies. The centerpiece of the event is competition for the best "green gadget" of the year. The finalists have been chosen and they are amazing! Check them out and vote for your favorite!

ECO:nomics. March 4-6. Santa Barbara.

Probably the stuffiest event and nearly impossible to get into, ECO:nomics is geared for Fortune 500 executives and is put on by The Wall Street Journal, who wrangled one notably un-green sponsor — Exxon. "This March, the editors of The Wall Street Journal will once again bring the world's leading CEOs, policy-makers and thinkers together at ECO:nomics to assess the risks and opportunities in the massive new market of environmental capital." Former VP Al Gore is expected to attend.

Global New Energy Summit. March 22-24. Santa Fe.

This looks to be one of the most innovative events of the year, bringing together leaders from four different corners of the new energy world —policy makers, venture capitalists, technologists and researchers. "Unlike any other new energy conference, this groundbreaking summit will bring together world-renowned panelists and showcase the latest innovation and applications in nuclear, solar, wind, water and bio-fuels along with energy storage and security experts."

Click here to see part 2 of my top 10 green tech events list. 

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