Bioenergy, Geothermal, Solar

Intersolar 2008 Showcases Worldwide Growth for Solar

It’s been a couple of years since the organizers of Intersolar saw the event was rapidly outgrowing its first home in Freiburg, the “solar capital” of Germany in the southwest. Boldly, Intersolar headed for Munich where its record 1052 exhibitors and 40,000+ visitors last week occupied no fewer than seven light and airy halls at the Munich Messe. An additional outdoor area was dominated by an impressive array of large-scale trackers for ground-mounted megawatt-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

With an exhibition space twice the size of the Freiburg 2007 event, the companies exhibiting were able to stretch their wings with stands of a size and scale that would have been unimaginable a few years back. A+F spent a week bringing in and building a full-size SunCarrier 6.1 tracker (40 kWp) that dominated the corner of one hall.

Trackers and other large-scale solutions were matched with innovative roof-integrations for solar PV, plus module, cell and manufacturing technology highlights. Applied Materials and their customer Signet Solar were able to show a 5.7m² frameless thin-film module manufactured using the technology announced at PV-SEC in Milan last September.

The solar heating section — spread across three halls with one dedicated exclusively to solar heating — was always going to be strong here, in Germany, where the solar heating market is expected to grow again by 30%-40% this year. But the very recent introduction of new legislation requiring all new buildings to have a proportion of renewable heating (solar, biomass, geothermal heat pump), along with the current high cost of oil and gas, have given the market additional confidence.

Germany is home to much of the solar industry, yet 50% of the exhibiting companies are now from outside Germany. A quarter of Intersolar’s non-German exhibitors came from China this year, with those from Spain in second place. Intersolar organizers have deliberately worked to internationalize the event and next month will see their first conference and tradeshow taking place on the other side of the Atlantic, in San Francisco. There they are partnering with the semiconductor association SEMI. Many businesses in the semiconductor sector are bringing their expertise to solar PV manufacturing, so there is an affinity in place — the event, however, will cover all solar technologies and applications, not exclusively PV. And in 2009, SEMI will be partnering in the Munich event to build up the PV manufacturing technologies side in Munich, as well.