Intersolar Europe: big on downstream and installers

19. June 2013 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Intersolar 2013, Intersolar Europe, Markets & Trends, Top News | By:  Hans-Christoph Neidlein/Jonathan Gifford

The first day of the Intersolar Europe trade show in Munich wound down on Wednesday with a clear shift towards more downstream services and away from material suppliers. The booming Japanese market is generating plenty of discussion, with a relatively large number of Japanese attendees evident.

Intersolar Europe 2013

Attendees attributed the drop in industry participation at Intersolar Europe to the event's shifting focus towards residential customers.

It was certainly apparent at Intersolar Europe that many companies had chosen not to exhibit at the show. Joerg Eckhart, global sales manager with materials supplier Heraeus, said the firm had decided not to have a booth at Intersolar Europe because he felt the show was becoming increasingly business-to-customer focused. "You can see a drop especially in our group of interest, equipment and materials suppliers," he said, pointing out that "some of the halls are only half full."

Trina Solar appeared to confirm this observation in the product highlights it chose to emphasize in a press event held at its booth. Trina presented its Trina Partner Plus program, which is particularly important, the firm claims, as the residential market continues to grow in importance in Europe and other regions. Some of the services provided under the Partner Plus program includes access to installer webinars and a system of bonuses.

Trina also indicated it would intensify its service provisions for customers by increasing training events. Last year Trina had more than 800 installers participating in the installer services they rolled out. The company also announced that a new online store for Trina products was in the works and set to go online by the end of the year.

Some upstream suppliers were in attendance on the first day of Intersolar Europe, although many had chosen not to take out booths of their own. pv magazine spoke to Guido Eberhard from specialist optical inspection system provider Isra Vision, who reported that an increasing number of OEM cell manufacturers are interested in inspection systems to ensure the quality of the source wafers being purchased. Isra Vision acquired GP Solar earlier this year.

Solar Promotions CEO Markus Elsässer attributed some the empty spaces in a number of halls to last-minute cancellations. Elsässer said that four out of 12 halls were not fully booked.

In terms of impressions of the show, Conergy appeared to be attracting large crowds to its booth. In Munich, Conergy is stressing its "local experience for global businesses" motto. This includes the whole service chain Conergy can provide, including financing, warranty services, EPC and O&M.

Sonja Schreiner from Conergy also emphasized that the modules being featured at the show are made in Germany, while cells are being sourced from outside of Europe. Schreiner said that Conergy's module production in Germany, located in Frankfurt (Oder), is currently running at a high utilization rate. She added that the cells Conergy utilizes are not sourced from China.

Japan in focus

pv magazine hosted the first of its Executive Panel Discussions at its booth, in partnership with Solar PV.TV. This first discussion focused on the Japanese market and how foreign firms could best supply booming demand in the country. Winfried Wahl, Hawha SolarOne's director of product management, said that the Hanwha Group parent company was well established in Japan and had operated offices there for many years.

JA Solar's Alden Lee, the company's European president, said the company's manufacturing facilities had been audited over an eight-day period by a Japanese firm interested in an OEM supply deal and stressed that the market was focused on quality.

Schletter's Dominik Grützner agreed, adding that local after sales service is also important. Mountings Systems' Helge Tost echoed the sentiment, describing local sales teams and technicians as vital. Tost said that in Mounting Systems' experience in the country, it had found that German product quality was also respected in the market.


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