Faced with the environmental challenges that go hand in hand with supplying energy to an increasing global population, numerous incentive programs across the globe have emerged for developing renewable energy – most recently in India and China for example. At the same time, the German feed-in tariff is falling. Therefore, researchers and industry are working against the clock to achieve grid parity – the point at which electricity from photovoltaic installations can be sold at a competitive price.
Greater efficiency for greater performance
The rise in solar module efficiency is particularly encouraging as regards improving the performance of solar installations. As recently as February, researchers at Freiburg’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE posted a new record for the efficiency of large-area, easy-to-manufacture silicon solar cells, reaching 19.3% – these cells could soon emerge on the market.
Researchers are pursuing different avenues to increase solar cell efficiency. Selecting optimal silicon material and developing new innovative production methods and technologies both play their role in boosting efficiency. Such methods include improving emitters, for example, which collect the electric charge carriers. This was also the approach adopted by researchers at Fraunhofer ISE, who developed an aluminum-doped emitter for their record breaking module. Nanotechnology and pioneering laser processing techniques, which are used for example in optimizing the rear surface structure of the solar cell, are also paving the way for innovative and highly efficient systems.
Improved production plants for high output modules
The last 20 years have witnessed some irrefutable technological advances in photovoltaics. In 1989, the world record for the efficiency of multicrystalline silicon solar cells stood at 14.5%. In 2004, this rose to 17.7% and the 20% mark is already in sight for 2011. Developments in this field are first and foremost thanks to improved production methods. For example, improved silicon crystallization processes in modern plants can alone raise module efficiency by at least 0.4%.
This year, Intersolar Europe is therefore once again dedicating an entire hall to innovations in production technology for photovoltaic cells and modules. In cooperation with the SEMI PV Group, the global industry association of equipment and material manufacturers specializing in photovoltaics, Intersolar Europe will host 200 national and international exhibitors in hall A5 where they will showcase products and services in the PV production technology field across 11,000 square meters of exhibition space.
An structured insight into a diverse market
It must be pointed out that the examples listed are just a taste of the technological advances in this extremely diverse industry. In addition to developments in the field of crystalline silicon solar cells, consumers today are confronted with an array of alternative systems, particularly thin-film technologies based on CIS/CIGS, cadmium telluride and the new copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS).
Around 2,000 exhibitors will present their latest developments in the fields of photovoltaics and PV production technology at Intersolar Europe, giving visitors a unique overview of the global developments in the industry. The exhibition’s accompanying program will also shine a light on the industry’s world-class innovations and give visitors the chance to delve deeper into the diverse exhibition themes. On June 8, 2011, the Intersolar AWARD will be presented for the fourth time running. The award pays tribute to companies, products and services in the categories of "Photovoltaics", "Solar Thermal Technology” and “PV Production Technology”. Visitors wanting to discover the latest trends and newest products should go along to Intersolar Europe’s Innovation Exchange which will provide an overview of the latest innovations. Here, exhibitors are given fifteen minutes to present their innovations – this will run in parallel throughout the entire exhibition.
Innovations in application
Intersolar Europe not only focuses on technology itself, but also shines the spotlight on innovative applications and system solutions, such as those involved in using unconventional surfaces for photovoltaic installations. Alternative surfaces for photovoltaic installations – such as carport roofing – are currently taking center stage in the industry.
Solar carports are a worthwhile alternative to conventional surfaces because no additional ground sealing is required and they offer huge potential. The largest installation of this type is located in Italy and is already boasting an output of six megawatts. Furthermore, the costs are only slightly higher than those for free-standing installations. The industry is currently developing multiple new ideas so that, in the future, the power generated from the carports may be used directly or indirectly for parked electric vehicles. The future of photovoltaics will also feature, for example, in Intersolar Europe’s Special Exhibition “PV ENERGY WORLD” in hall B5, booth B5.130, where the German energy mix of the future will be explained. The four thematic areas of “Smart Grid”, “Smart Building and E-Mobility”, “Smart PV Cities” and “Smart PV Technology and Economy” will illustrate how to increase the share of solar energy in German energy consumption in the future.
Munich welcomes the international solar industry
From June 8–10, 2011 the international solar industry will convene at the New Munich Trade Fair Center for Intersolar Europe 2011. The world’s largest exhibition for the solar industry will feature 2,200 international exhibitors presenting their products and services across 165,000 square meters of exhibition space, spanning 15 exhibition halls and an outdoor exhibition area. Over 75,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to attend Intersolar Europe 2011, all eager to find out about the latest products and services in the fields of photovoltaics, PV production technology and solar thermal technology.
Intersolar Europe 2011 will take place from June 8–10 at the New Munich Trade Fair Center.
For more information about Intersolar Europe please go to www.intersolar.de
Intersolar Europe is supported by the leading solar energy industry associations: the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), as an exclusive partner of Intersolar Europe, the German Solar Energy Society (DGS), the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF), the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) and the SEMI PV Group, with the support of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
With over 3,000 exhibitors and more than 100,000 visitors spanning three continents, Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition series for the solar industry. Intersolar Europe takes place annually at the New Munich Trade Fair Center. Today, it is the world’s largest exhibition for the solar industry, and looks back on a history spanning twenty years. In 2010, 1,884 international exhibitors and more than 72,000 trade visitors were welcomed to Intersolar Europe. Intersolar Europe focuses on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technology and solar thermal technology. Since its founding, it has become established as the most important industry platform for manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and service providers. The accompanying Intersolar Europe Conference consolidates the topics of the exhibition. In 2010, more than 150 speakers and around 2,000 attendees discussed current industry topics and shed light on the background behind technological, market and political developments.
In addition to Intersolar Europe, Intersolar North America in San Francisco was launched in 2008. This was followed by Intersolar India in 2009, which has been held in Mumbai since 2010. From 2011, Intersolar China will be added to the Intersolar portfolio. Intersolar Europe is organized by Solar Promotion GmbH, Pforzheim and Freiburg Wirtschaft Touristik und Messe GmbH & Co. KG. The exhibitions in North America, India and China are organized by the international subsidiaries Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim and Freiburg Management und Marketing International GmbH (FMMI).