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PV Expo got underway in Tokyo, Japan, today. The vast show covers every aspect of the industry - and several interrelated ones.

Much of it is aimed straight back at the domestic market, with local developers vying for attention and O&M services for Japan-based megasolar on offer, to give just two examples.

However, while some of the show is what might be described as uniquely Japanese in catering for a domestic market that was in past times considered a closed shop, there are many international companies also visiting and exhibiting, and overall there is a sense that solar knowledge, experience and business can comfortably exist outside the narrow confines of any one country.

This meeting of technologies and cultures, as well as some novel attempts at brand differentiation by the Japanese domestic market players, also provide for some interesting photo opportunities.

Wonderful, wacky and weird

Some of the highlights from day one of PV Expo. All photos by the author.

PV Tech gets a traditional Japanese welcome

A local maker demonstrates its PV panel-cleaning robots

Increasingly popular at solar trade shows the world over are model villages of the future; in this case presented by ZTT Solar

Drones - not just for killing and delivering boxsets, but now also overseeing utility-scale PV plant operations, it seems

Local module producer Looop showcases the hardiness of its products, although while PV Tech was nearby no one, least of all your correspondent’s keen right foot, was invited to put it to the test with a penalty kick

Canadian Solar presents power conditioners as well as its modules, aimed at the domestic market

Another table-top model beloved, this time showing solar development in peaceful coexistence with agriculture, something that becomes ever more a viable option as the amount of available single-use land for utility-scale solar diminishes in Japan

The recently merged Hanwah Q Cells/Hanwha Solar One booth shows the two companies’ branding side by side

Not long ago acquired by US residential giant SolarCity, mounting systems company Zep Solar’s product display heavily emphasises its partnership with the solar development division of Japanese trading company, Marubeni. As has often been noted by Japanese sources in the industry, partnership with Japanese companies is an established way for new entrants to gain a foothold here

Toyota was among several Japanese makers showcasing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) at the Fuel Cell Expo, co-located with the PV show (and several other related shows). According to Dr Christopher Hebling of Fraunhofer ISE, who PV Tech spoke to at the event, Japan has by far the most ambitious programme for hydrogen fuel cells in the world.

Another novel display shows a robotic ladybird spraying and wiping solar panels clean

Sharp showcases its residential energy solutions with a mixture of traditional and space-age branding