Activity levels high at Intersolar day 2

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Under a shining sun, the second tradeshow day kicked off this morning with the Solarpraxis-organized CEO breakfast. The event was well attended, with around 80 participants. Hellman Logistics and Siemens AG were co-presenters. They addressed such topics as the WEEE directive and photovoltaic system designs. The topic of integrated inverter technologies with storage and grid stabilization functions was additionally discussed. The biggest takeaway was that compared to last year, when only a handful of storage technologies existed, there are now over 100 on the market today.

As has been widely reported this year, storage and self-consumption are the key topics in the industry today, discounting the negative stories of insolvencies, price erosion and global trade disputes. Speaking to pv magazine, Chinese module manufacturer, Talesun said that it is currently cooperating with Switzerland-based Leclanché on the development of storage technologies.

The lithium ion battery specialist is planning to open an automated storage system production factory in Germany, specifically for solar solutions. It is expected to be opened by the end of the third quarter of this year and will have a capacity of 70 megawatts (MW).

In terms of Talesun’s cooperation with the company, Joachim Simions said that the level and scale will very much depend on the development of the market, specifically in relation to governmental support in Germany and Italy. Rumor has it that Germany will introduce a special tariff for storage, which would help boost the market, he said. Overall, Talesun has seen a big interest from customers in the area of storage. Costs needs to be around €1,500 per kilowatt hour (/kWh), however to be viable. Currently, they are over €2,000/kWh.

In terms of the trade case coming to Europe, Simions doesn’t believe it will happen. "It doesn’t make economic sense," he said, particularly since if the Chinese manufacturers ramp up capacity, European equipment suppliers will benefit. Furthermore, it makes no sense to increase prices, and the level of European manufacturers is low, compared to Asia, for example. The aim is to make solar competitive, he said. Then there is also the point that Germany will still presumably want to keep its auto relationship with China.

Conversely, Christian Comes, business development manager for solar at Panasonic said he personally would welcome tariffs in Europe. The company, he said, has suffered from the dumping of modules on the market and many cannot compete on such an un-level playing field, where prices have been lowered without costs decreasing inline. This, he believes, has created an unrealistic pricing benchmark.

In terms of what we can look forward to next from Panasonic, Comes said that the Japanese electronics company is planning to bring out a new HIT module next year, which incorporates bifacial cell technology. Prices, he said, will be similar to those of the HIT module today. Meanwhile, the modules will be suitable for utility-scale photovoltaic plants.

On the topic of bifacial cells, bSolar has unveiled its products for the first time at Intersolar. In a statement released today, the company announced that its cells will be used in new modules by aleo solar AG, asola Solarpower GmbH, Solar-Fabrik AG, SI-Modules GmbH and Solarnova Produktions- und Vertriebs GmbH.

Furthermore, bSolar will work on a 730 kWp ground mounted photovoltaic project in Nasukarasuyama city, Japan with TSBM, bSolar’s strategic partner and Japanese distributor. It is scheduled to go online this December. The project will be based on the company’s disruptive bifacial photovoltaic cells and represents a first step in its plan to enter the Japanese solar market.

Friedhelm Klee, managing director told pv magazine that for bSolar, the U.S. flat rooftop market is also very interesting, since roofs there that have been painted white receive a tax incentive. Meanwhile, the cells are also said to be optimized for markets with high levels diffusion, or in the snow, and in the early morning and late evening, where energy output is noticeably higher compared to monofacial cells.

As announced last week, the company is currently scaling up manufacturing in Germany. By the end of next year it plans to have a bifacial cell manufacturing capacity of 300 MW.

Meanwhile speaking with Conergy AG about the South East Asian photovoltaic region, Alexander Lenz said that while Thailand is the obvious market to enter, due to its solar support policies, and governmental and financial support, especially from the banks, it is keeping a close eye on what is happening in Malaysia and the Philippines. The time to really scale-up in these markets, however, is not yet here. He added that the region is very much network and relationship driven. As such, it is essential to address these factors when attempting to enter these regions.

Watch out for the August edition of pv magazine, which will focus on the SE Asian photovoltaic market.

Overall, many company presentations were held throughout the day, and activity levels were high. As the show wraps up, the music is being cranked and the stand parties are kicking off. Watch out for more Intersolar news tomorrow.