New horizons


The leading solar trade shows enjoyed largely mixed fortunes in 2013, with more downs than ups. In what was 12 months of consolidation, quantity made way for quality as reports filtered back from the shows that business discussions were brisk and focused, interest and attitudes among attendees were positive, and hope was abundant. The shows may have had less traffic, but those that did attend had serious intentions: Demand is now accelerating more than expected, costs have fallen, and an estimated 40 GW of capacity is forecast to be installed in 2014.
As the solar industry globalizes, more and more emergent markets come to the fore, hoping to grab their share of the PV pie. And as they do, a whole raft of new and expanding trade shows follow. pv magazine previews some of the emerging shows that might be worth your attention in 2014.

The emerging markets

Middle East & North Africa (MENA): At the crossroads between east and west, and blessed with superb infrastructure, hotels and exhibition centers (not to mention glorious, year-round sunshine), the MENA region is a happy hunting ground for a gathering of the PV industry. Therein, perhaps, lies the problem. “MENA is a lot of talk with not much happening,” Stephan Raulin, Director of Sales and Marketing at Skytron, told pv magazine. “It seems that most of the money there is generated via PV trade shows and conferences, but not by actual PV plants.”
Raulin has a point: Despite a collective solar PV pipeline of 2.3 GW, current installed capacity is just 380 MW, spread across the 21 countries (some extremely wealthy, all blessed with high solar radiation) that comprise the MENA region. Seven MENA countries have FITs in place, and 18 have renewable energy promotion policies either enshrined into law or awaiting approval.In oil-rich Saudia Arabia, for example, the government has announced ambitious plans to install 16 GW of PV power by 2032 – an objective that may well be realized, according to Josefin Berg, senior solar analyst at IHS research: “Saudi Arabia is definitely one to watch, although the market is still in flux as the time frame and requirements for the first tenders remain under consultation,” he said.
Industry eyes will therefore be keenly attentive when the industry gathers for the first big solar trade show of 2014 – the World Future Energy Summit, to be held in Abu Dhabi in January. This year the show attracted an encouraging 25,831 visitors and 650 exhibitors. Next year, expect those numbers to swell; partly fuelled by a genuine anticipation of movement within MENA’s solar industry, but also because the exhibition is both geographically and chronologically blessed – easy to get to from east or west, and the first big trade show of the year.
Key trade show
Event name: World Future Energy Summit , January 20 – 22, 2014, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, United Arab Emirates
Visitors 2013: 25,831
Exhibitors 2013: 650
Thailand: Easily the market leader in Southeast Asia, Thailand’s PV potential was well explored in 2013, which means all eyes will be on the Renewable Energy Asia Show held in Bangkok at the beginning of July.
“Solar development through the FIT premium, introduced in 2008, has given Thailand a head start over its Southeast Asian rivals,” Thomas Chrometzka, Director of Renewable Energy at GIZ Thailand, told pv magazine. “Thailand’s recently announced rooftop PV programs are strengthening the country’s position, even though Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia may also see good development in 2014.” A study by IHS also placed Thailand at the top of the emerging market table, with the country’s adder scheme likely to drive 2.9 GW of PV installations between 2013 and 2017.
Next year’s Renewable Energy Asia Show should give some solid indications of the strength of Thailand’s neighboring markets. Expect Germany’s Conergy to be heavily present: They recently installed 21 MW of PV power in Thailand and signed an agreement to bring 22 MW to the Philippines – a country in which most experts expect to see solar growth over the next few years. As for show topic discussions? “Rooftop solar may well be a big theme of this year’s show,” said Chrometzka. “Anything community-based will attract attention, particularly as there will be a number of community programs in implementation by the middle of next year.”
Key trade show
Event name: Renewable Energy Asia Show , June 4 – 7, 2014, Bitec Bangna, Bangkok
Visitors 2013: 19,000+
Exhibitors 2013: 312
Exhibition space: 15,000 m2
Latin America (LATAM): Latin America’s two leading renewable energy trade shows – Enersolar and Intersolar South America – attracted solid numbers in 2013, with confident speculators quick to predict that both will grow in 2014. However, the Latin America region still lacks a pivotal, show-stopping exhibition that is able to knit together the main players.
The two aforementioned shows, for example, attracted very different audiences. For Enersolar, the abundance of Chinese exhibitors and visitors was striking: Of the 160 exhibitors, 85 came from overseas, of which 49 were Chinese. “Many Chinese companies participated in Enersolar because they want to increase their knowledge of the LATAM market and make partnerships in the region,” Arthur Ribeiro, Enersolar coordinator, told pv magazine. “Enersolar set out to support the involvement of these companies that are bringing advanced technology and equipment to the region.
“As far as I am aware, Intersolar made no special efforts to attract Chinese exhibitors.” Instead, Intersolar 2013 focused on Brazil’s burgeoning potential – something likely to continue to flourish in 2014. The big question at next year’s Intersolar South America show will likely be around how to turn talk into action. This year’s 64 exhibitors all spoke about their lofty ambitions, and with Brazil’s A-3 and A-5 energy auctions now including solar, 2014 could be the breakout year for Brazilian solar, with 2.79 GW pledged.
For Enersolar, 2014 promises to be bigger in every respect. “Many exhibitors have already renewed their participation for next year,” confirmed Ribeiro. “In 2014, I can already state that the fair area will be expanded by 30%.” Elsewhere in LATAM, Chile is making solar headway, so expect to hear a lot more about further Chilean development by the time Intersolar South America 2014 rolls around. Mexico is mooted to show promise in 2014, and although actual installed PV capacity in countries like Uruguay and El Salvador remains low when compared to other regions, awareness is on the increase.
Key trade shows
Event name: EnerSolar+ Brasil 2014, July 16 – 18, 2014, Sao Paulo
Visitors 2013: 4,000 (for entire show)
Exhibitors 2013: 160 (for entire show)
Event name: Intersolar South America 2014, August 26 – 28, 2014, Expo Center Norte, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Australia: Although quieter this year than in 2012, the mood at the 2013 All Energy Australia trade show was a positive one, spurred largely by the emergence of the commercial rooftop PV market and the continued strong performance of residential rooftop PV, despite the withdrawal of the FIT incentives.
Despite Australia’s size, establishing distribution networks is straightforward – something that is likely to be discussed at great length again in 2014. When pv magazine attended the show earlier this year, it was interesting to note the strong presence of microinverter suppliers, with Chinese manufacturers dominating. Expect to see China further attempt to strengthen its ties with the Australian market next year, with the All Energy Australia show – held in October – a good barometer of just how well this collaboration has bedded in.
Key trade show
Event name: All Energy Australia, October 15 – 16, 2014, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Visitors 2013: 5,581
Exhibitors 2013: 157
Exhibition space: 4,000 m2
South Africa: Africa’s flagship solar trade show, Power & Electricity World Africa Conference and Exhibition (PEWA), attracted more than 4,500 visitors and over 250 companies in April, with solar power exhibitors comprising 42% of all those in attendance, making it far and away the most popular market for discussion.
Next year, experts predict that interest from Europe will be strong (this year, 19% of all visitors to the show came from Europe) as some of the continent’s largest suppliers and manufacturers look to take advantage of South Africa’s growing solar appetite. A pertinent example of Europe’s hope for South Africa’s solar market occurred this October, when the French government loaned $136 million to South African utility company Eskom to help it develop a large-scale solar project in the country.
And at this year’s EU PVSEC show in Paris it was announced that next year the inaugural Africa PVSEC will take place in Durban in March – further highlighting the growing confidence in solar power in the country. Indeed, IHS predict that South Africa will install 2.6 GW of solar capacity by 2017, placing it fourth on the analyst’s table of emerging markets.
Key trade shows
Event name: Africa PVSEC, March 27 – 29, 2014, Durban ICC, Durban, South Africa
Visitors 2013: N/A
Exhibitors 2013: N/A
Event name: Power & Electricity World Africa, July 11 – 12, 2014, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Visitors 2013: 4,500
Exhibitors 2013: 250

Other emerging markets

In Turkey, experts predict that applications for licensed solar projects couldreach nearly 9 GW, while a huge demand in non-licensed PV projects (raised recently from 500 kW to 1 MW) is also expected. In anticipation of increased Turkish thirst for solar power, the Solarex Istanbul exhibition – to be held between April 11 – 14, 2014 – is expected to be bigger than ever this year.
Russia is also expected to enjoy positive solar growth in 2014, with Stefan Müller of Enerparc AG telling pv magazine: “There have been a number of PPAs awarded recently in Russia, and we expect that approximately 250 MW of PV capacity will be installed in the country in 2014, and a further 500 MW in 2015. A gigawatt-size Russian market may soon be visible, though it remains to be seen how sustainable that market is likely to be.” Expect the country’s flagship energy show – The Russia Power Conference and Exhibition (March 4 – 6, 2014, Expocenter Moscow) – to show a heightened interest in the possibilities that exist within the solar power industry.

Established regions

Europe: The big announcement for Intersolar Europe 2014 is the news that the Electrical Energy storage exhibition will be held at the same time and place as Intersolar – a signal that the two industries further recognize the value of closer collaboration. The pairing of the two is perhaps indicative of a realization that the European market would be better served in pursuing innovation, rather than expansion, in the face of Asian and American competition.
In reporting at this year’s EU PVSEC in Paris, pv magazine online remarked that the conference “drew crowds despite the crisis,” which was an accurate representation of the overall mood at the show. Not only was EU PVSEC busier than expected (although still some way short of the 30,000+ that attended in 2012), but there was a sense of mild optimism, with those in attendance confident that Europe’s ‘solar winter’ has been weathered and sunnier times lie ahead for next year.
Key trade shows
Event name: Intersolar Europe 2014 (Exhibition: June 4 – 6; Conference: June 2 – 5), 2014, Munich, Germany
Visitors 2013: 46,929
Exhibitors 2013: 1,292
Exhibition space: 110,000 m2
Event name: EU PVSEC, September 22 – 25, 2014, RAI Convention Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Visitors 2013: 15,756
Exhibitors 2013: 256
Exhibition space: 25,000 m2
China: Despite shedding close to 50,000 visitors in the space of a year, SNEC 2013 was still far and away the most attended trade show in the solar industry this year. China’s dominance of the market is no longer questioned. How long it remains wedged at the pinnacle however, is in question, meaning SNEC 2014 could well be the pivotal show of the year. Located in the heart of solar’s largest market, close to the halfway point of 2014, the mood and atmosphere of SNEC could shape the entire 12 months.
Key trade show
Event name
: SNEC 2014 PV power Expo, May 20 – 22, 2014, Shanghai New International Expo Center, China
Visitors 2013: 150,000 (approx.)
Exhibitors 2013: 1,800 (approx.)
Exhibition space: 180,000 m2
India: India’s biggest trade show, Renewable Energy India, experienced a slight increase in visitor and exhibitor numbers for 2013. The rise was welcome and, on the whole, justified. Despite a challenging 12 months, the mood at the show was one of optimism for 2014, with 2.8 GW of PV capacity expected to be added across India next year.
Trend-wise, a lot hinges on how Indian suppliers can navigate their ever-tightening budgets and compete in a global market that has exerted great downward pressure on costs. Domestic growth is imperative if India is still to be considered a leading PV player in 2014, so expect to see European-Indian collaboration grow even closer next year.
Intersolar India 2013 wrapped up in mid-November having drawn more than 8,000 visitors to its exhibition and conference, which was a slight increase on 2012. The show followed swiftly in the footsteps of the news that India had reached 2 GW for installed solar capacity, ensuring the vibe was one of building on that potential for 2014, particularly from an international standpoint.
Key trade shows
Event name
: Renewable Energy India Expo (REI), September 3 – 5, 2014, India Expo Centre, India
Visitors 2013: 11,000
Exhibitors 2013: 500 (approx.)
Exhibition space: 25,000 m2
Event name: Intersolar India, November 18 – 20, 2014, location TBC
Visitors 2013: 8,500
Exhibitors 2013: 170
Japan: The leading PV trade show in one of the world’s foremost solar markets, PVExpo Tokyo 2014 could well shape the global solar scene for 2014 and beyond. Traditionally a well-attended event, there was a noticeable fall in attendee numbers compared to 2012, with the majority of visitors still drawn from a predominantly domestic and localized market. Nevertheless, overseas exhibitors were up, indicating a willingness among foreign manufacturers to chance their arm in difficult Japanese waters.
Yet despite the diversification, one name looks set to dominate discussions next year: Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister. His economic reforms – ‘abenomics’ – brought a boom to Japan’s PV sector, but with the generous FIT rates soon to disappear, will a bust follow? The signs suggest not, with Japan finishing the year strongly and predicted by Deutsche Bank to burst out of the blocks in the first quarter of 2014. The PV Expo in Tokyo will be the first tangible yardstick measuring whether this is likely to be true. Elsewhere, the comparatively smaller PV Japan 2014 trade show is likely to once again be relatively low-key in terms of visitor numbers but remain an important event.
This year the show focused on offering opportunities in supporting certain technologies, such as mounting systems, and operated for the first time under the umbrella of the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA). Next year, expect similar levels of professionalism, good networking opportunities and an even sharper focus.
Key trade shows
Event name
: PV Expo Tokyo 2014, February 26 – 28, 2014, Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan
Visitors 2013: 76,328 (total World Smart Energy Week 2013)
Exhibitors 2013: 1,585 (total World Smart Energy Week 2013)
Event name: PV Japan 2014, July 30 – Aug 1, 2014, Little Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan
Visitors 2013: N/A
Exhibitors 2013: N/A
North America: If the mood at the recent Solar Power International (SPI) exhibition in Chicago is anything to go by, solar in the U.S. will end 2013 in confident fashion. With the U.S. PV industry enjoying its second-best ever quarter for installed capacity in Q2 of this year, SPI had plenty of reasons for optimism, fuelled by a growing awareness that solar power is a viable and reliable power source – an awareness reflected in the growing credit market for solar investments. It will be interesting to see how accurate this prevailing attitude proves for next year’s SPI, which will take place in the perennially popular location of Las Vegas, Nevada – a hosting decision that is expected to help swell attendance figures for 2014.
For 2014, July’s Intersolar North America exhibition – the other big-ticket trade show in North America – should give the first accurate indications of how well the U.S. market has adapted to the shifting solar landscape. The trade show will once again be hosted in San Francisco, which has proved a happy hunting ground for this exhibition in the past, so expect to see an increase in attendance and exhibitors compared to 2013.
Key trade shows
Event name
: Intersolar North America 2014, Exhibition: July 8 – 10; Conference: July 7 – 10, 2014, San Francisco, USA
Visitors 2013: 17,881
Exhibitors 2013: 577
Exhibition space: 14,900 m2
Event name: Solar Power International,Oct 20 – 23, 2014, Las Vegas, USA Visitors 2013: 12,000
Exhibitors 2013: 600
Exhibition space: 25,000 m2
(All attendee and exhibitor figures supplied by event organizers)

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