Technological developments in the area of photovoltaics are advancing daily.
As a result, the cost of solar power is falling and new concepts are being developed for generating electricity in the future. Photovoltaics plays a major role at the world’s largest exhibition for the solar industry, Intersolar Europe in Munich. From June 8–10, 2011, around 2,000 companies will showcase the latest trends and developments in this field alone, with photovoltaics once again occupying a large part of the exhibition. Approximately 300 of these companies work in both photovoltaics and solar thermal technology. In an exhibition space covering 165,000 square meters, a total of 2,200 companies from around the world will present their products and services in the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technology and solar thermal technology.
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.