Intersolar Europe: Exhibition marching to international beat

Day two of the Intersolar Europe exhibition served to cement a trend evident throughout the opening day – the European PV market is no longer the talk of the town.

The crowds at this year’s show have been slightly sparser than last year. Queues are shorter, presentations briefer and booths a little barer. Yet despite this tangible taste of troubled times for Europe’s solar industry, the mood has been surprisingly buoyant thanks to the highly visible presence of international visitors and exhibitors.

As Solar Promotion CEO Markus Elsasser suggested during the opening day press conference, Intersolar Europe 2014 is marching to a global beat. American firm SunPower’s surprising absence aside, all of the largest international companies have dazzled attendees with booths that are bigger, bolder and brighter than before.

Amid the shows of strength and innovation from the leading global companies, the thirst for European market knowledge and technical expertise has been noticeable. Marguerit Durant, policy and communications coordinator for pan-European take-back and recycling scheme PV Cycle, told pv magazine that the bulk of queries they have fielded so far have come from Chinese, Japanese and Indian clients.

Understanding Europe’s WEEE (Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment) compliance regulations is an increasingly important topic for international module producers, Durant said.

Ben Hill, President of Trina Solar Europe, echoed the importance of companies such as Trina to comply with WEEE regulations. "We are the first company that is fully compliant with the new rules that were introduced in February," Hill told pv magazine. "We see it as a critical issue that Trina is leading the way on this."

Hill also revealed that the European share of Trina’s business is down, but added: "We do not see this as a bad thing. In fact, far from it – we are working with a truly global market now, and that can only be good for the industry."

Interest from India, Thailand and Pakistan has been brisk so far at Intersolar Europe, said Hill, who also revealed that there has been "lots of talk about the Turkish market" at the Trina Solar stand.

John Gorman, president of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) spoke with pv magazine about the opportunities at Intersolar Europe to make key technical contacts with what he calls "the best knowledge source in the industry" – a clear nod to Germany’s impressive track record for PV innovation and development.

Such German technical excellence was rewarded at the Intersolar AWARD 2014 ceremony when German solar technology company SMA Solar won recognition for its fuel save controller.

"The SMA Fuel Save Controller bridges the gap between the two worlds of fossil and renewable energy and opens up new business areas to solar companies," remarked the Intersolar panel of experts. Steca Elektronik, of Memmingen, Germany, was also recognized at the awards for its MPPT charge controller.