Almost half, 45% (871 exhibitors), of the stalls were from the host country followed by China at 20% (388 exhibitors), Italy at 4% (78 exhibitors), Spain at 2.5% (48 exhibitors), and Taiwan and Austria at 2.4% each (46 exhibitors each)
The world’s largest trade exhibition of the solar industry, Intersolar Europe 2012, took place in Munich, Germany, on 13th to 15th June. The event witnessed a record attendance of 66,000 visitors from 160 different countries who had the unique opportunity to interact directly with all the leading and emerging players of the global solar industry, which included 1,909 exhibitors from 49 countries. Almost half, 45% (871 exhibitors), of the stalls were from the host country followed by China at 20% (388 exhibitors), Italy at 4% (78 exhibitors), Spain at 2.5% (48 exhibitors), and Taiwan and Austria at 2.4% each (46 exhibitors each).
Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL), a leading PV products manufacturer, showcased Trinasmart at the exhibition, a module-integrated product that improves the output of PV systems, thereby making them more productive. The company also showed its Honey Ultra multicrystalline modules, an improvement upon Trina Solar’s Honey technology.
Trina Solar claimed that Honey Ultra holds the new world record for the most efficient multicrystalline module, which measures just 1650x992mm, and has touched a record 284.7 watts peak output in May 2012. The company’s claim was also confirmed by TUV Rheinland, a leading global certification service provider. The module uses thinner bus bars and fingers, better light absorption and an extremely reflective back foil to increase efficiency under low light as well as high temperatures. The module will be available commercially from 2013 and comes with a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year linear performance warranty.
LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), a China-based PV products manufacturer, also launched its “Professional Series” and “Value Series” of multi- and mono-crystalline PV modules at the exhibition. The “Professional Series" is targeted toward the company’s commercial customers and distributors. The modules come with a guaranteed minimum 97% power output for multi- and 96.5% for mono-crystalline modules in the first year of service. Furthermore, the company also claims that both of these modules will produce at least 80.2% output after 25 years of service.
The "Value Series," on the other hand, is targeted toward high-end customers and comes with a unique four-step power warranty that covers a period of 25 years, i.e., 94% minimum power output for first five years, 90% for 5-11 years, 85% for 11-18 years and 80.2% from 18-25 years. Furthermore, all of the company’s solar modules manufactured after Friday, June 15th will be equipped with a positive tolerance of -0/+5 Wp.
On the other hand, Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) has revealed at the exhibition that its ELPS Solar cell had touched the efficiency rate of 21.1%, which can make it the most efficient P-type mono-crystalline solar cell in the world. ELPS feature a unique Metal-Wrap-Through design which improves light absorption by 3%, and as a result the module produces 7% more electricity. The company also introduced its CS6A-P module, which uses 48 small pieces of polysilicon cells to produce up to 205W. The module is primarily meant for PV rooftop installations.
Intersolar could not lay claim to be the primary exhibition for the global solar industry without participation from the world’s largest solar cell manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE: STP). The company introduced its 255-Watt Polycrystalline module (STP255–20Wd) at the exhibition. The module uses 60 six-inch solar cells and metallization technology to produce 5% more electricity than an average module of a similar class. Unlike its competitors, the company is already producing panels with a positive power tolerance of 0/+5 Wp. The panels can be installed with any kind of PV system and can even work in extreme weather conditions, such as 3.8 Pa wind load or 5.4 Pa snow load. With its strong R&D, the company plans to take the STP255 to 260W.
Around 2,000 industry experts also met at the Intersolar Europe Conference on the backdrop of the main exhibition, to discuss the latest market developments and innovations. The conference started two days before the main exhibition, on 11th June, and came to conclusion on 14th June. The conference focused on power storage, grid integration and large-scale solar PV plants. The highlights of the event were a series of presentations that were given by 400 different speakers.
The exhibition also included a CEO panel discussion during which the chief executives of leading solar companies discussed the future of solar power. The panel included Dr. Shawn Qu, CEO of China-based Canadian Solar; Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of China-based JA Solar Holdings (NASDAQ: JASO); Udo Möhrstedt, CEO of Germany-based IBC Solar AG; and Rafael Schröer, Managing Director of Japan-based Kyocera.
The CEOs of Canadian Solar and JA Solar agreed that customers are not worried about the type of technology or manufacturing origin of their solar panels; instead, they are primarily concerned about the price. The objective should therefore be to focus on reducing the installation rate of PV systems to $1 per kilowatt hour. On the other hand, Shawn Qu thought that R&D was the most important element for the solar industry, and its focus should be on efficient energy storage.
All the CEOs were unanimous in criticizing the trade barriers. Commenting on the issue of EU tariff barriers on Chinese solar imports, IBC Solar’s Udo Möhrstedt said that tariffs are a “great mistake” and suggested, very frankly, that it would be “stupid to implement a tax on Chinese modules."
Dr. Shawn Qu also explained to the audience the entire process that resulted in the US Department of Commerce’s trade barriers, which he considered unfair.
The CEOs were hopeful about the future of solar, which they think is going to be challenging. Rafael Schröer predicts that "storage" will be the focus of the solar industry. He also predicted that Germany will add 6.5GW and Japan 3GW of solar capacity in the current year. On the other hand, Dr. Qu thinks that there isn’t going to be any significant growth in the global solar sector, while Dr. Fang has forecasted further price reductions.