Solar Power International (SPI) has closed out for another year. Many buyers arrived to interview the many and varied solar providers. Deals were made. The solar business market share in the energy sector will grow as a result. The convention a success.
For an SPI show-opening overview, remarks, and pictures, please visit this prior CleanTechnica article.
Aluminum CPV from Xxentria
Here is an aluminum CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) unit from Xxentria. The theory in CPV is that the PV is expensive, but the reflector unit isn’t so expensive, which could bring down the kWh cost of solar electricity. Xxentria coats its units with highly reflective material to increase the efficiency.
The Big Buzz
While we looked for big technology breakthrough news and the “big buzz” hot items at the show, we didn’t find any. What we did find was a maturing field of technology with lower prices and a range of applications such as utility-scale solar array project companies, flexible solar panels, lightweight solar panels, carport applications, faster and cheaper installation systems, racking for any situation, CPV, improved wind management, higher-efficiency systems, lectures and education, thermal solar, agriculture mixed-use projects, improved quality control, beginning-to-end solar project consultancy groups, a random wind turbine, the Tesla Model S and Cadillac ELR, and much more.
Beyond the utility-scale solar array projects that we are used to seeing pictures of, there is a growing set of applied solar uses. We saw some interesting applied systems such as carports, flexible and portable thin-film solar, and a solar panel on top of an off-grid light pole that lit the ground below the light pole at night.
The Oddest Product
One unusual thing that we saw was some kind of odd-looking, bulky junction box that the exhibitors had no idea what it did. Their company had just been bought and the parent company sent it to the show without training the exhibitors on what it did. It was very funny. They were laughing about it, too.
Every end of session around 6 PM for this three-day event, a few of the larger exhibitors offered beer and snacks. One had beer on tap from a keg. Below is a photo of the off-site #SolarChat party, from left to right: Raina Russo, CEO of ET Solar Dennis She, and Glenna Wiseman.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Las Vegas Highlights
Speaking of applied systems, adding in some local color, the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is now lit entirely by three small on-site solar arrays that are on nearby poles. This was put in place by Oscar Goodman who was a mob attorney here in Vegas during the old days. He even appeared in the Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone movie Casino as…you guessed it…the mob attorney. He was then elected as Mayor. Only in Vegas. He went to every event with two showgirls in full regalia. After two terms in office, he couldn’t run for Mayor again so he put his wife up for Mayor and she won. She is the current Mayor of Las Vegas. Hey, at least they support solar power.
Photo Credit: Mike Hiller. Used with permission. Mike’s blog is http://EscapeHatchDallas.com
SPI Solar Education
Seeing all of these exhibits and talking with the exhibitors was quite an education unto itself. It was a crash course in the opportunities, challenges, and creative solutions facing the solar industry. A common impression that I had throughout the show was that the sheer size of the trade show was incredible and that the solar industry is now a formidable force that shall not be stopped.
My friend JD Mumma (who is a photographer/videographer) and I were fortunate to be able to find a diverse group of exhibitors to discuss their wares. These companies were selected as a representative group of exhibitors to bring SPI to CleanTechnica readers through video interviews.
The interview method was designed to keep the videos short to save the readers’ time. We discussed questions and topics for discussion before the video and then let the exhibitors being interviewed run with it. They all did a great job.
Product: Ultra-Light Solar Modules
Interviewed: Tom Hood
Focus: Light but durable solar panels are sometimes needed for some structures that otherwise wouldn’t allow for a full PV array due to the added weight or normal solar panels. Weight is reduced per panel from about 19 kg (42 pounds) to about 6 kg (13 pounds).
Web site: www.GigaSolarPV.com/
Product: Solar Lifts
Interviewed: Charles Cutter and Erica
Focus: Solar lifts make rooftop solar installations safer. Due to this, they are sometimes required by solar manufacturers or building codes.
Web site: www.GEDAUSA.com/
Product: Smart Solar Systems
Interviewed: Wayne Lee
Focus: Renusol is a subsidiary of Renusol GmbH, based in Germany, which has close to 1 GW of solar mounted on Renusol systems. Renusol America does installations offering a range of solar solutions. They have installations in 30 US states and Europe.
Web site: www.RenusolAmerica.com/
Product: Fast & Inexpensive Installation Systems, Spice Solar
Interviewed: Barry Cinnamon
Focus: Fast and inexpensive racking is a key part of reducing costs. Spice Solar, installers themselves, offers a solution for quick installations. Every order gets spice.
Web site: www.SpiceSolar.com/
SunChiller Solar Thermal Tubes shown are useful for cases when there is little space for very high efficiency. These will cost more than PV, but they produce more kWh in the same space footprint. Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Product: Solar Thermal Tubes
Interviewed: Serge Adamian
Focus: Sometimes there is a need for high output from a limited space when the budget allows for a more exotic solution and SunChiller delivers. These high-efficiency units also work well in cold temperature locations. Technology: the concave metal in the tubes serve so collect heat to heat the center tube liquid, which is essentially a reverse heat sink. Clever.
Web site: www.SunChiller.com
Hanergy fold-up 50-watt flexible panel. Greg Decker showing how it works for off-grid use. It folds up into a little, flexible, slim-briefcase-sized, carrying case (see video). This is brand new technology that will be available in 2015. Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Company: Global Solar Energy, division of Hanergy
Product: Flexible Solar Panels
Interviewed: Greg Decker
Focus: Flexible, thin-film panels that form fit roofs and foldable panels for off grid, RV, camping recreational and academic field work uses.
Web site: www.Hanergy.com/en/
Thanks to JD for your help.
We would like to thank the many exhibitors who spent time with us. We learned a lot and had fun learning. Solar rocks!
If you are looking for a great solar education, be sure to catch SPI 2015. It will be in Anaheim, California, during September 14–17.
If you decide to commercialize your solar idea, SPI is the place to launch it. I’ll see you next year in Start-Up Alley!