Growth despite recession

16. July 2011 | Top News, Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers, Global PV markets | By:  Hans-Christoph Neidlein

Despite record unemployment and empty public coffers the signs still point toward growth for photovoltaics – even in the U.S. This was the conclusion of Intersolar North America, which closed its doors with record participation in San Francisco on Thursday evening.

Intersolar North America lobby crowds

Intersolar North America attracted record numbers of visitors. Image: Solar promotion International GmbH.

With clearly more than 20,000 visitors and over 800 exhibitors, the scale of Intersolar North America was a far cry from that of Intersolar Europe this year in Munich. Nonetheless, a clear improvement compared with the previous year.

Intersolar in San Francisco certainly benefited from the fact that the second largest solar trade exhibition in the U.S., Solar Power International, will for the first time not take place in California this year, but rather in Texas.

The considerable presence and huge interest on the part of international exhibitors and visitors at the trade show, particularly from Asia and China, was particularly remarkable. In addition to established large manufacturers such as Suntech, Trina, Yingli and Canadian Solar, a whole set of new Chinese companies were also on hand.

For example, Chinese photovoltaic cell and module manufacturer, Talesun, which only began with highly automated manufacturing in greater Shanghai just one month ago, made the journey to the U.S. to attend Intersolar North America. According to VP of business development, Alex Taylor, the company has significant plans for development, which include achieving a capacity of one gigawatt by the end of the year.

Smaller, lesser-known Chinese manufacturers such as Trunsun Solar, which currently manufactures 50 megawatts (MW) worth of crystalline modules annually, also anticipate increased sales in the U.S.

According to CEO Liyou Yang, the module supplier Astronergy is additionally counting on good growth prospects and sales of at least 100 MW in the country this year.
And top dog Suntech aims to sell modules with an output of at least 450 MW in the U.S. this year, says communication manager Walker E. Frost.

European and German suppliers such as Festo, Heraeus, Manz, Bosch Solar or Siemens also look forward to increasing business across the Atlantic. For example, Siemens commissioned two new inverter manufacturing plants for the residential market, together with Refu, and for micro-inverters - cooperating partner Enphase - near Chicago just a few months ago.

Most of the exhibitors surveyed by pv magazine in San Francisco expect to see growth close to two GW on the U.S. market this year, or double the amount compared with the previous year.

Anticipatory effects may also have an impact here says Markus Elsässer, organizer of the trade exhibition and Solar Promotion CEO. This is because continued financing of national incentive programs, such as the Treasures Grant Program, beyond the current year is still unclear at the present.


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