Intersolar: Energy storage key theme on day one of conference

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The first day of the Intersolar Europe Conference 2014 – a two-day conference that precedes the Intersolar Europe Exhibition – began at the International Congress Center Munich (ICM) on Tuesday, setting the scene for tomorrow’s exhibition opening ceremony.

The conference is traditionally a scene-setter for the exhibition, and this year boasts an impressive roll call of 300 speakers and is expected to attract 2,000 attendees drawn from solar PV industries around the world.

Top of the agenda was the issue of energy storage and solar heating technologies. Indeed, for the first time ever, the Electrical Energy Storage show is being hosted alongside the exhibition this year, with seven designated sessions planned. Discussions on the concourse focused on the technical limitations of solar storage, and the trends and practical expertise required to help the sector grow.

pv magazine caught up with IHS senior solar analyst Josefin Berg at the conference to get her thoughts on day one of the show. For Berg, the issue of energy storage is likely to be a key theme of the forthcoming exhibition as self-consumption models begin to make traction in Germany and other European markets.

"Solar storage had a large presence at last month’s Milan Solar Expo in Italy because the phasing out of the Italian feed-in tariff (FIT) and the introduction of tax credits for net metering has created strong interest in PV storage and self-consumption," said Berg. With Germany in the process of phasing out its FIT and moving ever closer towards self-consumption as the energy model of choice, Berg expects Intersolar Europe to reverberate to the sound of such discussions over the coming few days.

Early impressions

Day one of the Intersolar Europe Conference was slightly quieter than 2013, according to Berg, but with the addition of the Electrical Energy Storage show this year, the analyst believes that both the conference and the exhibition will prove satisfactory for the industry.

Berg did note, however, the absence of SunPower from the exhibitors’ list. This year, in a move that has surprised the analyst, the American solar manufacturer has opted not to have a booth at the Intersolar Europe exhibition. "Perhaps with the poor performance of the European solar market last year, SunPower has decided to focus on its own domestic and other international markets. Their absence is a surprise."

Last year, exhibitor and visitor numbers from China were noticeably lower than in previous years, and Berg expects that trend to continue this year as the remnants of the trade disputes between China and the EU linger. "The big Tier 1 manufacturers will be visibly present of course," Berg said, "but for Chinese Tier 2 companies, Intersolar Europe may not be high on their agenda this year."

And despite being the "sweet spot of Europe" for solar in 2014, Berg also does not expect heaps of attention to be poured on to the U.K. solar market at Intersolar Europe. "There will be representatives of U.K. companies here as it is a good opportunity to meet with their suppliers – many of whom are German – but the U.K. market has its own exhibitions that are more important right now for those solar companies interested in the British solar sector.”"

Until tomorrow, when the Intersolar Europe Exhibition begins, it is difficult to gauge what the overall mood of the show will be, but first impressions are that attendance levels at this year’s show will be similar to 2013, albeit with a keener focus on energy storage, self-consumption models, and solar heating.

pv magazine will be reporting daily from the exhibition, so stay tuned for more reports, interviews and news throughout the week. If you are at the show, please come and say hi to the pv magazine team at Booth A2.160.