With the solar industry currently experiencing a wave of innovations, numerous companies are presenting the results of their intensive research and development. Intersolar Europe 2016, as the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry and its partners, is the ideal platform for this purpose. The exhibition opened its doors today with the Intersolar AWARD, marking the ninth year in a row the prize has been presented to especially groundbreaking solutions. In the Photovoltaics category, the coveted award went to LG Electronics Deutschland GmbH, M10 Industries AG and SolarEdge Technologies Inc., while projects submitted by Jakson Engineers Limited, ME SOLshare Ltd., Schneider Electric SE, SMA Sunbelt Energy GmbH and S.O.L.I.D. Gesellschaft für Solarinstallation und Design mbH impressed the panel in the new category of Outstanding Solar Projects.
This year, the Intersolar AWARD received a record number of submissions, with 149 projects going head to head to win the prestigious prize. Exhibiting companies from all Intersolar and ees exhibitions around the world were invited to take part. Applicants could only put forward products, projects, services and solutions which were undergoing testing or which were already in use (and were making their first appearance) or which showed significant developments to existing technologies at the time of submission. In addition to the innovations put forward, 2016 brought with it another first: The Intersolar AWARD was expanded to include the category of Outstanding Solar Projects. This new category recognizes projects from around the world that make an exceptional contribution to driving forward the energy transition. For the first time, owners of solar projects were also able to take part.
The panel’s assessment criteria reflected the challenges posed by the market. The experts examined the degree of technological innovation, the benefit for industry, the environment and society as well as the economic viability of the solution.
Winners in the Photovoltaics category
Higher system output and easy to install – a highly efficient, bifacial solar module
Electronics manufacturer LG Electronics Deutschland GmbH is continuously expanding its business activities in the PV industry. Its new, highly efficient, bifacial solar module LG NeON 2 BiFacial significantly boosts energy yields and features NeON cell technology and 12-wire CELLO cell connection. In outdoor tests carried out and documented by LG Electronics under various, typical conditions, the modules were shown to increase yields by around 10%. The conventional, simple junction boxes are divided into three smaller boxes located outside the cell area, thus avoiding shading and heat build-up on the back of the module. The module is also relatively lightweight, making it easier to install.
“Bifacial modules require less material and space for the same system output. This makes them a worthy winner of the Intersolar AWARD 2016,” said the panel.
The next logical step for module technology
The Germany-based company M10 Industries AG develops, produces and maintains manufacturing systems for the solar industry. As the only stringer in the world able to solder up to 5,000 solar cells per hour, the Kubus multi-tray stringer increases capacities dramatically. The Kubus system connects an entire module in a single soldering process, eliminates the need to insert individual strings and significantly minimizes cell handling. All components can be exchanged without interrupting the production process, which considerably reduces the amount of downtime. The same system can be used to process numerous cell concepts with a different number of busbars, and can even be integrated into existing production lines. If the global energy transition is to succeed, the production costs of photovoltaics need to be reduced further to increase its share in the market. The panel of judges praised the innovation for its performance, low material consumption and the fact that it can be operated by just one person – all of which are factors that help to reduce the costs of photovoltaics.
Inverter with record-breaking efficiency
SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (Israel) is a supplier of inverter solutions for the international photovoltaics market. The company aims to increase the availability of solar energy. SolarEdge’s HD Wave technology has enabled the development of a compact, lightweight inverter with a record-breaking efficiency of up to 99%. It uses multi-level technology with distributed switches to generate voltages that come very close to the sine wave of the grid voltage. This considerably reduces the number of magnetic components required. The silicon MOSFETs used for the multi-level switching ensure low switching and conduction losses, thus reducing cooling requirements. This allowed power density to be increased, whilst reducing the size of the inverter to around half that of most standard devices. SolarEdge anticipates lower production costs, thus considerably reducing the costs of one of the main components of a PV installation. The innovation won the Intersolar AWARD because the panel agreed that the innovation would have an impact on the entire PV value-added chain.
Winners in the Outstanding Solar Projects category
Solar village powered by centralized and decentralized renewable energy
Jakson Engineers Limited from India offers a diverse range of energy solutions promoting sustainable growth. For the Intersolar AWARD 2016, the company submitted a project that sees the Indian village of Baripatha (Odisha) powered completely by solar energy through centralized and individual installations. This has considerably improved the quality of life of all inhabitants in the rural village, who are also responsible for cleaning the solar panels and checking the water levels in the batteries. In the event of cyclones or strong wind, the solar installation can be dismantled and stowed away in just two minutes. Micro-financing was a decisive factor during the implementation phase, and positively influenced the project’s long-term success. The off-grid installation is easy to reproduce, thus helping to protect the environment and reduce the inhabitants’ dependency on oil. It was the project’s outstanding combination of impacts for society and the environment that won over the panel of judges.
Innovative business model for rural electrification – peer-to-peer energy sharing
ME SOLshare Ltd. from Germany provides low-income earners in rural areas of Bangladesh with a platform for sustainable, affordable access to electricity. The smart PV DC village microgrid in Shariatpur is the world’s first peer-to-peer network to allow energy to be shared between private solar installations. Bidirectional metering devices allow users to buy and sell electricity via the power grid. Households that do not have their own solar installation can now purchase electricity from their neighbors. The expansion of solar energy in the village is reducing fossil fuel consumption and facilitating the inhabitants’ access to electricity. “These kinds of local solar power markets are groundbreaking. The decentralized bottom-up approach improves power supplies as it is based on a system controlled by supply and demand. This new business model can be easily applied to other villages,” praised the panel.
PV installations and battery storage units in 170 schools and 11 public health centers
Solar company Schneider Electric SE from France offers solutions for the entire energy chain. Thanks to its project in Lagos, Nigeria, diesel generators have been replaced by solar technology on a large scale, despite the country’s geographically difficult location. The solution includes a charge controller which enables the PV installation to operate at high voltage with less cables, a plug-and-play communication gateway, robust products that can withstand the tough environmental conditions in Africa, and a system designed for a prefabricated container. The panel of judges was impressed with the project’s considerable social benefits. The sustainable plug-and-play installation is based on an interplay of technology, progress, competence and financing. The project is proof that this technology pays off and can stabilize supply safety in remote, rural areas.
Hybrid power supply in the Caribbean
SMA Sunbelt Energy GmbH from Germany is a subsidiary of SMA Solar Technology AG involved in PV hybrid projects across the entire world. The company is behind the large-scale hybrid project for solar power generation and storage on St. Eustatius Island. This project, the first of its kind and size in the Caribbean, is reducing the island’s dependency on diesel generators. It serves as an example of technical feasibility for a large target group and promotes further investment. Thanks in particular to the storage device used, the panel of judges found the project to be a revolutionary solution for replacing diesel generators. It integrates large quantities of solar power into a diesel solar power grid, reducing operating costs, CO2 emissions as well as dependency on diesel fuel. The solution’s storage component increases stability thanks to its frequency control, ability to limit fluctuations in performance caused by the weather and optimization of diesel generator operation. The amount of diesel used and resulting emissions are drastically reduced.
Solar cooling – an educational project on environmental awareness for the local population
S.O.L.I.D. Gesellschaft für Solarinstallation und Design mbH is a solar technology company from Austria specializing in large-scale solar thermal systems. The company designed the largest solar cooling system of its kind at Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. The installation heats a single-effect lithium bromide adsorption chiller. Although temperatures in Scottsdale can rise to 43°C in the summer, the installation meets all of the school’s cooling requirements. It also serves as an educational project on environmental awareness for 2,600 students and the local population. This large-scale project shows the effectiveness of a business model that uses tried-and-tested technology, lowers fossil fuel consumption and drastically reduces CO2 emissions. “The significant energy savings achieved by the installation highlight the feasibility and refinancing prospects of a solar thermal system of this size, especially in regions with high cooling requirements,” says the panel, explaining its decision to present the project with the Intersolar AWARD 2016.
Intersolar Europe 2016 takes place at Messe München until June 24
Visitors have up until this Friday, June 24 to find out more about the winners and many other exciting solutions at Intersolar Europe, where around 1,100 exhibitors are presenting their products, solutions and services. 40,000 visitors from 165 countries are expected to attend this year. ees Europe, the continent’s largest exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems, takes place in parallel to Intersolar Europe.