Intersolar 2014, Munich
The sun shined on Intersolar as as we were amongst some 44,000 visitors flocking to Messe Munchen. This event is seen as one of the most important on the solar calendar, and as always, serves to be a great networking opportunity. We met with our manufacturers, installers and colleagues to view products covering a range of technologies from energy storage, smart homes and electric cars to heat pumps, solar thermal and solar PV.
According to the EPIA , newly installed PV output reached 38.4GW last year, 28% more than in 2012. However, the general attitude within the European market has been unsteady amidst strong competition from Asia and uncertain Government funding.
The good news is that the trend is upwards; annual installations will rise from 44GW at the end of this year to 55GW by 2018, cementing photovoltaics as an important “pillar” of future energy supply as well as an attractive investment opportunity.
Intelligent Energy Supply
Many companies presented on-site consumption solutions for homes and commercial buildings. Combined with storage systems these allow protection against rising energy prices. Amongst these were SMA who presented the SMA Smart Home – an intelligent management system to allow efficient use of self generated electricity in the home or commercial operations to megawatt-class battery inverter storage.
Energy storage in Germany is heavily subsidised, and while this remains largely out of reach of the domestic consumer in the UK, as battery prices reduce it will inevitably hit the UK market.
Doing Solar Business in the UK
Alongside Intersolar, Solar Media held their own event “Doing Solar Business in the UK” with headlines such as “Succeeding in the UK – head down keep pushing”, aptly summing up the challenges in the market today.
Lars Weber of Neas Energy Ltd eloquently explained the contentious new CFDs regime, to a somewhat baffled audience. The new CfDs regime will replace the existing RO scheme from April next year for all ground mount installations 5MW and over. Lars was in the minority who viewed this scheme as good for solar, however the risks and complexity involved may restrict it to the bigger players.
Edmee Kelsey of 3Megawatt spoke on financing and managing commercial rooftops. While this market makes the most sense, consuming energy where it is produced, it is still a challenging and complex market and legal issues with occupancy surround access rights.
Other topics included an overview of renewable heat and the RHI, which has seen little uptake since its launch earlier this year. One reason may be that the public are just not aware it is out there. Howard Johns of Southern Solar revealed a little known fact; that the domestic RHI is available on installations dating back as far as 15th July 2009!
Doing Solar Business in the UK ended with a discussion of product quality for rooftop market. Tips for success include maintaining a diverse portfolio, optimising for difficult roofs, remote and intelligent monitoring and addressing the safety aspects.
BMX biker and SolarWorld project engineer Sebastian Hoppe test drives SolarWorld solar panels