Storage grows five-fold as Intersolar Europe opens

The opening press conference of the Intersolar Europe Exhibition, which began today in Munich, Germany, outlined a varied program that has evolved to bring storage technology – including stationary systems and e-mobility – even further under the Intersolar umbrella.

The EES Europe exhibition, which runs concurrently with the Intersolar Show, has grown five-fold on last year, with an entire hall at the Munich Convention Center given over to advancements in storage systems, applications and innovations.

Tellingly, growth was more stunted among the solar PV industry, with the 40,000 expected visitors and 1,000 exhibitors estimated slightly down on last year, which was already a notably lower-key show compared to years past.

In the opening press conference, Intersolar founder Markus Elsässer was keen to stress just how international the Intersolar Europe exhibition is, drawing more than 60% of its exhibitors from non-German companies.

The show’s growing internationalization was evident in 2014, and has been diluted even further this year. On the show floor, visitors from 143 different countries are expected, similar to last year, with around 41% of those walking the hall floor having arrived from foreign countries.

“We have a lot of experience, knowledge and know-how in Germany and Europe, and are confident that Intersolar Europe will continue to be important on a global scale,” said Elsässer.

“Even here in Munich we are focusing on the global perspective for solar PV and storage, and I am optimistic about the future of Intersolar Europe. We have a strong research community, with many new technologies being developed here.”

Storage on the charge?

“The storage industry in Germany, and the wider world, is going to become extremely competitive over the next few years,” said Carsten Kornig of German Solar Association, BSW.

Kornig said he is expecting a second solar gold-rush in Europe over the next few years as the energy has become cheaper than conventional sources of power in many places. “Data from Deutsche Bank has solar PV at $0.10-$0.15 per kilowatt hour in Germany, and solar is the cheapest source of energy in many countries around the world,” he said. By 2050, solar is likely to be below $0.05/kWh, according to BSW data based on research from Fraunhofer.

Driving this cost reduction is innovation and the support of the storage industry, where Kornig echoed the words of Tesla CEO Elon Musk in calling the sector the “missing piece”.

“That missing piece has now been filled,” Kornig said. “The German government initiative is a storage subsidy system that is boosting sales of storage systems. Prices are falling, too – our half-annual price index shows that prices for lithium-ion systems have fallen by 26% over last 12 months alone.”

There will be 326 exhibitors showcasing either storage or integrated storage with inverter products at the show, of which 158 are storage-specific companies,” Elsässer said.

Many of these companies are drawn from the automotive industry, which shares a lot of synergies with the stationary sector, the Solar Promotion founder added.

pv magazine will be reporting live and direct from the Intersolar Europe exhibition all week, so check back regularly for more stories and interviews.