66,000 visitors from 160 countries and 1,909 exhibitors from 49 countries: These figures tell the story of Intersolar Europe 2012. This year the exhibition was more international than ever before. 2,000 attendees from 68 countries also participated in the Intersolar Europe Conference and its side events, held parallel to the exhibition. The key topics of electricity storage and grid integration, which were also examined at the PV ENERGY WORLD special exhibit, were met with a particularly positive response from visitors and exhibitors alike. In total, 140 international exhibitors presented state-of-the-art solutions and products in this segment. Both of these key topics will play an increasingly crucial role in implementing the energy revolution and restructuring energy systems in the future, and as a result the organizers are planning to dedicate an exhibition segment to energy storage systems in hall B5 in 2013. Another important topic next year will be opening up and linking new growth markets for solar technology and especially for photovoltaics (PV). Established markets such as Germany, Italy or France are in transition due to changes in political and economic conditions. Elsewhere, market research companies such as IMS Research from the UK are reporting signs of bolstered demand in up to 60 nations across the world. How companies involved in the industry can benefit from this potential in the future is one of the topics of Intersolar Europe 2013 and the accompanying Intersolar Europe Conference.
Alongside the long-running topics of efficiency and costs, Intersolar Europe 2012 focused specifically on the future development of the industry. Thanks to the PV and E-Mobility special exhibit, this year’s exhibition showcased for the first time how solar power and e-mobility can be combined. The PV ENERGY WORLD special exhibit presented state-of-the-art technologies in electricity storage and grid integration. In addition, experts shed light on electricity storage in numerous sessions at the Intersolar Europe Conference. Exhibition tours focusing on storage technologies helped visitors to orientate themselves among the huge number of companies and exhibits. The topics were well received by exhibitors and visitors alike. 140 providers of storage systems alone presented their products and solutions and saw keen interest from visitors. The plan for 2013 is therefore to continue to consolidate the interest in the topic and to devote an exhibition segment in hall B5 of Intersolar Europe to it for the first time.
Focus on electricity storage and grid integration
Innovative and inexpensive electricity storage systems play a crucial part in restructuring power supply. They allow solar power to be stored temporarily and consumed during periods of low yields, helping to stabilize the power grids. However, this is not only relevant for power generation and consumption on an industrial scale. End users are also becoming increasingly interested in consuming more of their own solar power instead of feeding it into the grid. A recent report entitled “End Customers in Focus” by the Bonn-based company EuPD Research confirms this trend. The report shows that 88% of end customers who installed a system in 2012 or would like to install a system stated that they are thinking about a storage solution. At the same time, consumers accept that yields will be lower because of additional investment costs. For many users, greater independence from energy companies is what matters most. Despite these positive signs from the market, many representatives from industry and associations are calling for further market incentive programs. After all, repeated indications from the Federal Ministry for the Environment are that it will promote power storage technologies.
Industry and associations have nonetheless agreed that overregulation has to be avoided to guarantee sustainable and stable market development. In co-operation with Intersolar Europe, EuPD Research hosted the first Storage & Solar Briefing in Stuttgart on October 10, 2012 to offer a platform for discussing the subject. The briefing focused on technological and economic feasibility, as well as the need for funding for solar storage units. Jörg Mayer, CEO of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) in Berlin, argued firmly in favor of binding political support in the form of an incentive program. Mayer said that reliable funding for at least the next four years was vital for encouraging development.
New markets for the global solar industry
Companies and analysts are anticipating further growth in the international PV market in 2012 as well. Away from the established markets, which are in many cases in transition as a result of changed circumstances, market researchers are seeing clear signs of increasing demand in up to 60 nations worldwide.
Above all, sinking installation prices mean that more and more new medium-sized photovoltaics markets are emerging. According to IMS Research, UK, 23 countries will increase their PV capacity by more than 100 megawatts (MW) this year. In 2011, the figure stood at 17 countries. The broad diversification of markets will lead to greater stability in the industry in the long term as development will cease relying on the subsidy policies of individual nations.
IMS Research is predicting that the global photovoltaic capacity will increase by between 27 and 32 gigawatts. In addition to China and India, Japan, South America and many countries in the Middle East in particular will soon be expanding their PV capacities. The Intersolar Europe Conference 2013 and the exhibition itself will provide more information on new markets and opportunities to enter them, bringing leading experts from the most significant growth markets to Munich. The aim is to continue forging links in the international industry and thereby provide companies with access to new geographical markets.