Intersolar Europe: German companies sweep Intersolar Awards

German companies swept this year’s Intersolar Awards while two U.S. companies one two out of the three new Electrical Energy Storage (ees) prizes, presented for the first time at the Intersolar Europe exhibition in Munich on Wednesday.

The exhibition presents the Intersolar Award to groundbreaking solutions in the categories of Photovoltaics, Solar Projects in Europe and this year added the ees Award for innovations in battery and energy storage technology.

German firms SMA Solar Technology and Steca Elektronik both won in the PV category.

SMA accepted a prize for its SMA Fuel Save Controller, which combines diesel generators and photovoltaic installations to considerably reduce diesel consumption. "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," the jury said.

Steca was honored for its versatile and compact Steca Tarom MPPT 6000-M charge controller, which supports different types of storage systems, including lithium-ion, lead, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries. The jury also praised the integrated microSD data logger as well as the two separate entry points with two independent MPP trackers providing more flexibility.

Also picking up an award in the PV category was Japanese manufacturer TMEIC Corporation for its Solar Ware Samurai central inverter featuring an innovative cooling system. The jury gave the device high marks for being environmentally friendly, which it achieves thanks to its high efficiency level and by not using coolants.

Germans companies also dominated the Solar Projects in Europe category.

Goldbeck Solar won for its exemplary heat and supply system at the School & Sports Center Marienheide in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which combines PV and decentralized heat/power-generation technolgy. The system can cover electricity and heat requirements on demand, enabling fluctuating solar energy to be partially balanced out and providing more self-sufficiency with regards to electricity and heat.

IBC Solar nabbed a prize for its 6.4 MW City solar power plant in the German city of Kaiserslautern. The project showed that it is possible to finance ground-mounted installations despite reductions in feed-in tariffs. Two local companies became investors and now use the generated solar power at less than €0.10 per kilowatt hour. The plant has also helped ease the burden on the government budget and has increased the attractiveness of the industrial area.

Fellow German group LTi REEnergy GmbH was honored for erecting a 15 MW ground-mounted Terranova installation on a former gypsum site in Zelzate, Belgium. The project was built on a previously polluted area and got small investors and residents to take part.

Electrical energy storage winners included two companies from the U.S. and one from Bulgaria.

Texas-based Ideal Power Inc. was feted for its IHC-30kW-480 hybrid PV storage converter, which combines PV and battery at a high DC voltage level and stands out with an efficiency level of up to 97%.

ViZn Energy Systems from Montana impressed the jury with its ViZn Z20 Energy Storage System, which uses a new redox-flow battery technology for commercial applications from 160 kWh. The unit mostly avoids the use of dangerous substances in storage systems and its use of cost-efficient raw materials could mean considerable cost reductions, particularly in comparison with today’s vanadium redox-flow technology.

Bulgarian firm International Power Supply showcased an optimal system for off-grid use in the form of the Exeron MX, which fulfills all requirements surrounding energy management, communication and modularity. The system won over the jury with its stringent modular design, easy-to-maintain hot plug technology, advanced lead battery management and the increased availability thanks to excellent system redundancy.

Intersolar invited some 3,500 companies from all international Intersolar exhibitions as well as the ees exhibition to impress the jury with their innovations this year. Applicants could only put forward products, projects, services and solutions that were undergoing testing and that were already in use or which showed significant developments to existing technologies at the time of submission.

All solar projects had to have been completed within the last two years. The assessment criteria reflected the challenges posed by the market. Experts examined the degree of technological innovation, the benefit for industry, the environment and society, the economic viability of the solution and proof of its innovative quality.

The Intersolar Europe exhibition runs through Friday.