EU PVSEC: Side events steal the show

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The difficult market conditions in the photovoltaic industry continue to be impossible to ignore, as one of Europe’s premier industry tradeshows took place in Frankfurt this week. However, in the face of adversity, diversified material and equipment suppliers have spoken of remaining committed to the photovoltaic industry in the face of adversity.

This sentiment has been repeatedly expressed at various side events at the EU PVSEC, including by supplier Heraeus and equipment

Silver paste and equipment supplier Heraeus has chosen to make the most of the show’s Frankfurt location, to invite approximately 150 attendees to its primary campus, located in Hanau, approximately 40 kilometers from the show’s host city. Attendees were taken on a tour of the sprawling and historic Heraeus campus, where the R&D and manufacturing of the company’s silver pastes for photovoltaics takes place.

Opening the event, Andy London, Global Business Manager for the Photovoltaic sector at Heraeus said that while the industry may be experiencing a challenging period, it remains committed to the sector. More recent products have aimed at reducing silver usage in frontside contacting pastes by allowing the application of very fine lines.

Equipment manufacturer Manz has also held a CIGS Forum today at the EU PVSEC, where the company provided in-depth information about the Manz CIGSfab and also the technology roadmap, which has delivered a world-record CIGS module efficiency of 14.6%, with an aperture efficiency of 15.9%.

Despite skepticism existing about the future of the thin film industry, in light of very low c-Si module prices, Manz CEO Dieter Manz confirmed to pv magazine that he remains confident in the technology. "In the thin film we have a fully automated system so we can reach cost levels that are far below the crystalline already with a 200MW to 250MW size, and we don’t need such a well-developed supply chain," said Manz. The company has not yet sold one of its turnkey CIGS fabs.

Of note at EU PVSEC this year, has been the prominent lobbying efforts of the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE). The group, which has been formed to advocate against photovoltaic trade disputes that have been launched in both the U.S. and EU, has a prominent booth at the tradeshow and has been putting on twice-daily presentations.

"Trade protectionism, we believe, doesn’t work. We’re very concerned what this could do to the future of our industry," said an AFASE presenter to an assembled crowd tempted to the booth by free beer and finger food. Representatives of Chinese module manufacturers, which largely make up the AFASE coalition, were in attendance.

The EU PVSEC tradeshow winds up tomorrow.