Ecobuild 2011 shines a light on PV

Andreas König, European Sales Manager of Renusol, told pv magazine: "My impression is that, compared to last year, the Ecobuild show feels like an international trade show. Last year, it was like a playground, compared to this. The mood was different. I was at the show and there were only five PV companies. Now, there are about 50."

In the PV exhibition halls, highlights included numerous technological advances on display and debates on the polemic feed-in tariff (FIT) at the Solar Hub, as well as professional expert advice at the Practical Installer. PV roofing company Ploughcroft was one of the main attractions, and was voted the best stand at Ecobuild 2011, with its demonstrations of solar panels.

Ecobuild managing director, David Wood, commented: "We are enormously pleased that exhibitors and visitors have turned out in record numbers to take part in this year’s Ecobuild and that ExCel has been so well-received. But the venue is just a part of the experience, of course. We have worked hard at putting together a proposition that specifiers across UK construction – and increasingly, further afield – find compelling when there are so many other competing pressures on their time. Continuing to strengthen that proposition remains out top priority for Ecobuild 2012 and beyond."

Canadian Solar’s marketing director, Daniel Heck, told pv magazine: "I thought everything was well-organized. We got a lot of installers coming to the stand, but also distributors. Our goal was to introduce our company to the UK market and that turned out really well, either in terms of quantity and quality. This was our first time here, but we will definitely come back next year."

For Berlin-based Inventux Technologies AG, which presented its product portfolio in the UK for the first time, the event also proved to be a success. PR officer Francisca Obermeyer explained: "It was perfect. There were a lot of people and a lot of very interesting contacts. We have already started contacts with installers."

New products

The Ecobuild event also served as a platform for companies to present their new products. For British company Iko Plc, for instance, it was an opportunity to introduce its new PV energy roof systems to the market – IKO Solar – which features flexible strip systems attached to a roofing membrane, and cylindrical systems placed onto the roof. ?

Likewise, London-based SolarCentury, one of Europe’s fastest-growing PV companies, presented a unique solar electric slate, C21e, designed to enable slate roof homeowners to use PV energy. Derry Newman, the company’s CEO, explained: "Our new solar electric slate is a first. To make it fit with any type of slate, our design team had to use manufacturing techniques commonly used in the automotive and high tech consumer electronics industries. After detailed and thorough testing, the result is a product with advanced weather protection features, which is more than robust enough to meet the stringent building product standards across Europe."

Germany

In addition to new product launches, several Germany-based exhibitors used Ecobuild as a platform to announce their entrance into the UK market. Berlin-based Inventux Technologies AG, for example, presented its product portfolio for the first time, after having recently received Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approval for its microphorm thin film solar models.

IBC Solar also announced its entrance into the UK market, while AZUR Solar Systems said it would be opening a new UK head office, and visitor and distribution centre in Slough, Berkshire as part of an expansion program "to bring affordable and efficient solar energy production to both commercial and domestic consumers".

Moreover, Q-Cells SE unveiled its intentions to enter the UK market. The company said it will shortly be opening a London office and is expecting to announce MCS approval for its most popular modules, Q.SMART and Q.PRO. Shortly after the event, the company announced the signing of an 83 megawatt agreement with SunPower Corp. through its U.S. arm.

Joining the group of German companies strengthening its position in the UK market, Renusol presented its MetaSole mounting system, which allows for easy, fast and cost-effective assembly of all marketable, framed PV modules on pitched roofs.

Beginnings

Ecobuild started in September 2004, as a small conference alongside other events, in Brick Lane, London. Less than a year later, in June 2005, the event took place at the London QEII Conference Center. Since then, it has become a global event, recognized by all major sustainable construction stakeholders.

Well-known for its unique format – featuring not only exhibitors, but also conferences, seminars and practical demonstrations – this year’s Ecobuild hosted over 100 sessions delivered by 750 speakers, showcased over 1,300 suppliers and received well over the 50,000 expected visitors during the three days. It took place at London’s ExCel centre, from March 1 to 3.