From the mounting side, weve seen quite a lot of momentum in tracker technology, particularly in ground mount installations where trackers are starting to be used a lot in 2015. The market leader is Array Technologies, and they have released here a V3 with torsion dampening that is interesting (#17
Similarly, the list reveals a lot of innovation from other suppliers, not least NEXTracker, which has introduced a tracker that runs on batteries (#5), meaning the tracker can still be powered should the cabling come loose. This is really helping to grow the market for trackers, and chimes with IHS forecasts that fixed-tilt arrays will be used less and less in the coming years.
Jinko partnering with Maxim on power optimizers (#39) is interesting. This collaboration is to negate the effects of shading to allow for higher densities of modules in installation. This is where we are expecting installers and homeowners to want to really optimize their space on the roof and get the most out of their system. SolarEdges new power optimizer (#23) sees the company going from strength to strength. We have seen huge momentum for this particular product in the U.S., where they are the leading supplier in this space and we expect this to continue.
Overall, have you been impressed by the levels of innovation on display?
Yes, generally. One trend that I have seen is epitomized in SMAs 1,500 V inverter. These are their large 2.5 MW central inverters (#38
One of the issues with the drive towards 1,500 V is the availability of 1,500 V modules, or modules that can handle the higher voltages. JA Solars (#43
In your opinion, what kind of impact can some of these technologies have on their respective markets?
I think there are some individual micro improvements, but when taken collectively these products are sure to have a positive impact on their respective industries. The movement towards 1,500 volts in inverters, or using trackers rather than fixed tilt, and particularly on rooftops now were seeing ballast used to keep the mounting system secure, rather than penetrating the roof this is a trend we see coming. What all of these innovations are aiming to do is aid faster installation, bring down O&M costs and increase yield. This is all leading to PV becoming more competitive in the longer term.
How much of a role can BOS components continue to play in delivering lower LCOE in the future??Cormac: Certainly for inverters, were still forecasting that prices will decrease by around 10% over the next five years. We are expecting the price decreases to be a little bit more aggressive this year, maybe in the teens 15-20% in certain segments, because there are a lot of suppliers still operating within the marketplace. However, even within this download you have outlined what we have been explaining for some time, which is that Asian suppliers have really begun to expand beyond their domestic markets. The two leading Chinese suppliers are featured, Sungrow (#4
What further developmental and design processes are you seeing in the mounting systems industry? ?
Dow Cornings adhesive (#29
U.S. dominance is reflective of the market, which is booming. There are still quite a number of pure play suppliers in the U.S., and its a reasonably fragmented market in some respects, particularly in the commercial rooftop area. Some of these ideas will spill into Europe over the next few months and years, and will lead to lower costs.