Intersolar Europe: no boom but surpassing expectations


The final day of the Intersolar Europe trade show in Munich wound down on Friday with many attendees reporting that while numbers were down on previous years, the quality of the traffic and sheer number of visitors had surpassed expectations. There was also talk of tier 1 Chinese suppliers scaling back production in the face of European tariffs.

The international nature of Europe's biggest photovoltaic trade show was evident throughout the three days of the fair, with mobile testing equipment supplier MBJ Services saying that a large delegation from Japan had come to Munich to see a field presentation of the firm's equipment. MBJ CEO Erik Lohse said that more than 50% of the attendees showing interest in MBJ's equipment were from outside of Germany.

System integrator MP-Tech reported strong interest from U.K. visitors, with the German-based company adding that it had already completed more than 30 MW of projects in 2013. MP-Tech said that the German market only comprises less than 5% of its business and that increasing demand from Southeast Asian markets was notable, including the Philippines. Next week MP-Tech will open a new sales office in Ghana.

Equipment supplier Grenzebach, which exhibited at the Intersolar Europe for the first time this year, said that visitors to their booth were of high quality. The firm said that it was looking to expand its activities in South Africa.

Meanwhile, pv magazine has learned at Intersolar that major manufacturers, including Yingli Solar, have begun cutting back on production by as much as 50% in light of uncertainty over European anti-dumping tariffs. Material supplier Coveme told pv magazine that orders are at good levels through to the end of July, although what happens after that is unclear. The Italian firm added that the unstable demand presented a major challenge for the company.

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Florian Abel, the director of sales, marketing and logistics for German wholesaler Franken Solar, said the firm was expanding its foreign project business with a strong focus on the emerging Turkish market and that the firm intends to reduce its dependency on the German market. Abel said that in 2012 Germany accounted for 90% of Franken Solar's business and this is expected to decline to 75% in 2013.

Swiss inverter manufacturer SolarMax said that Intersolar Europe remains "the show" for the company with its booth extremely well attended by installers throughout the three days. SolarMax unveiled its latest product offering, a "storage ready" inverter, at the show. SolarMax's Hans Fritzsche told pv magazine that while storage remains uneconomic at present, being ready for the time when storage becomes economically compelling is important. Fritzsche expressed some disappointment at the pessimism gripping some parts of the photovoltaic market and said more needs to be done to celebrate the arrival of grid parity in an increasing number of markets, including Germany.

The exhibition halls were relatively quiet on the final day, particularly in light of the good crowds attending on Thursday. Intersolar Europe will close its doors at 5 pm on Friday.

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