Intersolar Europe: Solar Frontier looks to post-FIT markets


Japanese CIGS manufacturer Solar Frontier made a strong impression on its return to the Intersolar Europe show, having not exhibited the previous two years.

The firm’s large booth was well frequented as it presented its PV power solutions offerings, with branded inverter, wiring and software integrated with its thin film modules.

Senior Vice President Atsuhiko Hirano said the continuing strength of the European market has allowed the firm to take some chances in rolling out its power solution product in markets such as Germany, Italy and the U.K.

"If you look at our booth, there is a lot of emphasis on us moving downstream, moving past simply being a module manufacturer and supplier to providing an integrated solution proposition for the end customer, for the residential, the commercial and also for utility scale," said Hirano.

Despite FITs having receded in the majority of the European markets, Hirano said Europe remains an interesting proposition for the company. He added, though, that in 2014 it will only account for a very small proportion of the firm’s turnover. The Japanese PV market is continuing at pace, but Solar Frontier is looking to Europe as a post-FIT market from which it can apply its experience from its downstream business in Japan while developing a business model and expertise in post-FIT markets — for when the high Japanese FITs come to an end.

"There is huge potential in Germany still," said Hirano, "but in 2014 the proportion of Solar Frontier modules being supplied to Europe will still remain small."

Along with its Solar Frontier branded inverters, cabling, software and modules, Solar Frontier presented a model of a solar carport design it has developed.

The Solar Frontier turnkey power plant product is well suited to the commercial rooftop market, Vice President Atsuhiko Hirano said, with Solar Frontier’s CIGS modules performing well when applied in at flat, rather than inclined, array. In terms of its technology, the Japanese firm said that 165 W and 170 W modules are rolling off its lines, meaning its Kunitomi fab, which is currently running at "full blast," is producing in excess of its 900 MW annual nameplate capacity.