About blog-discrimination & goodbye from the EU PVSEC!

10. September 2010 By:  Sasa Malek

So – all good comes to an end, they say. Thank god also all bad too! The EU PVSEC organised in Valencia this year has been a great experience for a non-expert like me. It was a nice excursion into the world of the sun’s power, but I have also seen some shadows.

Let me start with the bad ones first (se we can finish of with a smile together) – some of the people, who had their stands at Valencia’s fair said on the last day: “Valencia – never again”. The organisation of the fair seemed to be failing in many ways and people were not happy about it.

The internet was not working properly – meaning you would have to restart your connection several times during a session of just a few minutes. The stands were not organised thematically, which at least for me – being used to big fairs having halls designed especially for one type of producer or service – was a bit confusing and in my opinion this was not benefiting the companies that were presenting themselves, because many small ones got easily overlooked.

When you needed a schedule to look at the press events, usually you could not find one, because they have all been handed out. The air conditioning was rather disappointing, the toilets were dirty and there were actually the remains of a dog’s excrements in the main hallway (which didn’t get cleaned up, but instead ended up being smeared around by unfortunate visitors).

It also happened to me for the first time that I got discriminated as a blogger. People have prejudice over all sorts of things, but I have never thought that someone would think that I am not good enough to report about them or even to be presented at their stand just because I write blogs.

It happened at one of the Fraunhofer institute stands (I do not want to mention which one) and I have to point out that there are many Fraunhofer stands, because there are endless Fraunhofer institutes. In Germany they are known as one of the top scientific research institutes. They hire only the cleverest people.

I approached them because I wanted to write about new things coming from them – to give me some ideas about interesting topics and to get some context of the already existing technology. There was a lady at the stand who didn’t seem to like me since the beginning. I told her I write for pv magazine from Berlin and would like to blog about new things they are working on so I can write something interesting.

She told me that I can put down my email address and she will refer me to the press speakers to get the materials in a few days. I explained that I am writing a blog about the fair and it makes no sense to wait, but is instead much easier if someone could explain to me briefly what they are representing at their stand in a few minutes.

She said that it is impossible to do that, because I have to talk to the press speaker. I said to her that if they are able to present to others who visit their stand, why not to me – I am an average visitor after all? And a blog (which is not a journalistic article) is a marketing plus for them. The response was – but we have our own ways of marketing and we are not producers. “Look, you don’t understand me,” I said, “I know you are not conventional producers – I came to you because you do research and to find out about the trends that are coming. I would just like you or someone else at the stand to briefly describe me what is it all about,” and then she said: “I’m sorry, we are not in the blog world. I’m afraid it is not possible for us to cooperate with you.”

WOW. I have to admit it really made me mad. I could not believe that someone would refuse to present me their stand, while they actually came to the fair to present their things to everyone! She could have just said – we do not want you to write about us because for this or that reason, and I would have respected that. But instead all this misunderstandings got us both angry and, at the end I just said to her in a very annoyed way: "Right, I can see that you simply do not want to,” and left.

However, I did not give up on Fraunhofer and went to another stand – where two of the institutes had their research on display together. And the people there were more than happy to help me out and extremely friendly. One of them was the Fraunhofer ILT institute (for laser technology), where they showed me their low-cost ultra compact ablation laser for structuring and marking, that has the size of a cigarette box. It is one of the smallest lasers of its kind: a 4 W solid-state laser with 10 ns pulse width, 0-200 kHz repetition rate, integrated beam expander and with an operation via a 2D-scanner.

It was designed for automated planar assembly, and uses a crystal media that enables cooling from two sides. When on the market, it should reach the cost of a few thousands euros, and will therefore make the application of conductor materials much cheaper and less complicated.

The other Fraunhofer IPA institute developed a novel Parallactic Tracking technology concept that supports flat, fixed solar panels with internal concentration and dynamic sun tracking. It is a new invention made that enables sun tracking solar modules on conventional rooftops: the small solar concentration module (about 40x40 cm) is embedded into a mechanism that changes its position on the Y and Z axis the entire day (as it focuses the sun to the lenses).

It is a low concentrating technology (up to 10x) with 60x2mm mono crystalline concentrator cells from Narec. The project is supported by the 7th Framework Programme (Active Solar Panel Initiative), which aims to develop a new cheaper multidisciplinary photovoltaic technology and lay grounds for next generation Active Solar technology.

The point of the story is – no matter how bad it gets, if you have a good attitude, all wrong can be turned into right! And that is what it is all about – in Valencia as well. After all, its warmth made us feel welcome in many ways and we left it with the feeling as if the summer would never end.

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