Intersolar Europe Conference – Day 2 Highlights

The second day continued on several topics that were discussed on Day 1. There were 5 parallel sessions on the second day – PV power plants, New Business Models for the PV Industry, Energy Storage, PV Technology : Crystalline Silicon and PV Technology: Thin Films.
PV Power plants
The focus of this session was on quality and performance of power plants, operation and maintenance and factors that influence financing decisions. Even though PV module technology is fairly mature, the risk that modules do not meet their long term performance and reliability expectations is quite high. Some of the common faults and failures of modules were analysed and ways to avoid them were discussed.  From the financing side, the following points were highlighted as project quality requirements
–          Bankable modules, inverters, EPC and O&M agreements
–          Rigorous module testing
–          Comprehensive project documentation
–          Qualified monitoring
Some of the operational problems in the plant were discussed and means to detect them early were shared. Means to improve Performance Ratio by monitoring and control were also talked about.
New Business Models for the PV Industry
In Germany, with the monthly reduction of Feed-in-Tariff, the market is looking towards non-FiT based business models. As one of the speakers put it is FiT customer vs Grid parity customer. Eight speakers spoke on the new business models and some interesting ideas were

  1. Contracting model
  2. Lease and service model
  3. Service model

Selling power directly to commercial and industrial consumers was also discussed. The bankability of own consumption and local sale models were compared based on the German taxation and other rules. One of the key takeaways was that standards for non-recourse financing of such models is still evolving and not yet mature.
Energy Storage
This session was also jam-packed with 8 speakers. Battery storage for small scale residential applications as well as for MW size utility scale applications were discussed.
One key takeaway has been the growing intelligence of energy storage systems. Efforts are on to integrate weather and load forecast into the battery so that charging of the batteries can be done optimally to ensure peak shaving.
Real-life case studies on the comparison between Lithium ion and Lead acid batteries done. Similarly, case studies of Vanadium Redox Flow storage systems were presented.
To sum up, the sessions clearly showed that the energy storage industry is taking big strides in terms of technology and cost reduction.
PV Technology: Crystalline Silicon and Thin Films
The session of Crystalline Silicon saw speakers share the latest advancements in cell efficiencies using technology and process improvements in areas like surface texturing, metallization, surface passivation, among others.
In Thin Films, the advances in the CdTe, CIGS and organic PV were discussed. First Solar shared its experiences about the performance of CdTe modules in MW scale utility projects. Dr. Ayodhya N Tiwari, Founder of Flisom AG, Switzerland presented on flexible CIGS modules on polymer substrate. Dr. Tiwari said that Flisom has achieved 20.4% efficiency in lab. He said there is excellent potential in the CIGS technology, but a few more years are required for it to become commercially viable. Heliatek gave the comparison of some of the different organic PV technologies and the potential for this category of technology.
That ended the Day 2 of the conference after setting the stage for more action on Day3.
The exhibition opened on 19 June 2013 even as the conference entered its third day. The proceedings from Day 3 will be uploaded shortly.
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