SPI: Steady growth despite the difficulties


Although less visitors and exhibitors attended SPI 2012, compared to last year’s show in Dallas – 20,000 compared to 21,000, and 1,100 compared to 1,200, respectively – the overall mood was positive. "All the important people have been here," stated Matt Feinstein from Lux Research.

The show underlined the trends seen in both the global and U.S. solar markets, which were already discussed at this year’s Intersolar North America; namely that industry consolidation supports partnerships and mergers, especially for increased downstream and EPC activities, and the specialization of module manufacturers.

A pertinent example of this is Hanwha SolarOne. Within the space of the last few months, the Korean-based company has acquired Solar Monkey, in order to establish EPC subsidiary, Hanwha Solar Energies America; bought shares in Minneapolis-based TenK Solar, a manufacturer of commercial rooftop systems complete with optimized cell electronics and integrated reflectors; entered into a distribution partnership with California’s AEE Solar, one of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of solar products and equipment; and partnered with OneRoof Energy, in order to take advantage of the booming solar leasing market.

At the SPI, the company displayed its Sunbank energy storage station for the first time, developed by Hanwha and U.S.-based Silent Power, alongside its Epi Thin-Silicon Technology Concept Module. Hanwha’s Mark Bronez told pv magazine the technology is a direct gas to module process, which reduces operational and capital costs by up to 50% compared to standard wafer processes. It was developed together with Crystal Solar, located in Minnesota. "We see huge business opportunities in the U.S.," he added.

Marco Trova, director of technical sales at Power One told pv magazine that Power One sees the U.S. as a "steadily growing market". The photovoltaic inverter manufacturer presented several new products at the SPI, including the UL certified commercial string inverters, Aurora Trio-20.2 and Trio-27.6; the modular inverter system, Aurora PVI-400.0-TL with an output up to 400 kW; and the Ultra-700/1100/1500-TL series.

Until the end of this year, the company will also launch a series of microinverters, with a range of 250 to 300 W to the U.S. market. "We expect an increase of our sales for the residential market in the U.S. in 2013 of 50 % and for the utility scale market of several hundred percent’s," Dave Woijciechowski, vice president renewable energy sales said.