Musings on Intersolar Europe 2011: PV shake-ups, celebrities and podiatrists

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A tired but happy PV-Tech/Photovoltaics International staff team made its way back to London ground after last week’s Intersolar Europe show. All in all, the event was hugely successful and called some industry naysayers to reason as to the PV sector’s viability in the wake of various market developments.

With a massive 15 halls in action, the exhibition was, for want of a better word or two, absolutely huge. It’s a telling sign that many of the attendees that visited one of our two booths relayed their plan to ‘do’ the entire exhibition over the three days, which would grant a cursory glance at the exhibitors at best. Needless to say, there were aching feet aplenty by the time Friday rolled around.

But despite the increased size of the show, it was still quite manageable and well laid-out. Some of the more adventurous booths included Mage Solar, which had a massive walled area that was near intimidating at first, but a wander into the enclosure showed it was actually quite a nice set-up. Inverter company Fronius constructed a very impressive booth, while Applied Materials’ two-tiered assembly was striking as ever.

The conference seemed to attract large volumes of attendees, despite its location away from the exhibition halls of the Messe München in the ICM building. The entire exhibition and conference drew around 77,000 visitors from 156 countries and was stocked with 2,280 exhibitors.

Wednesday got off to a good start, with visitor volumes gradually building toward the end of the day. Thursday was the big draw, as per usual, with this often hurried PV-Tech team member finding it difficult to walk along the ‘Intersolar Blue’ carpets due to the meandering visitors. We were pleasantly surprised by the relatively large volume of visitors that remained on Friday prior to the rush to Flughafen München, where some exhausted suited n’ booted Intersolar attendees took a well-earned snooze prior to their flights.

On Wednesday, the Photovoltaics International team members hosted a Pimms party at one of our booths – to those of you not in the know, Pimms is considered the epitome of British (alcohol-containing) summer drinks. What with the uncertainty surrounding vegetables and cucumbers in particular in the wake of the E. coli scare, we made the decision to omit the cucumber element from the Pimms this time around.

Night-time activities were plentiful, as is often the case. The Trina Solar party was excellent, with the company’s unveiled celebrity – none other than McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy fame – in attendance to show his support for solar. While maintaining passable levels of dignity, Photovoltaics International account manager Nick Richardson (pictured right) and I managed to pounce on the unsuspecting celebrity while project guru Chris Whitmore switched from day job to 1950s reporter mode and took a few photos. While many continued the party with Trina, others bowed out early to amass some energy to tackle day two.

Thursday evening’s entertainment included Suntech’s BBQ Beach Party, which I’m told provided a dizzying array of delicacies, dancing and drinks. I took a more low-key approach to the evening, attending Upsolar’s Friends and Family evening in Munich city centre, which was delightful!

Conferences and presentations were plentiful, but the ‘Market Intelligence Area’ provided an ideal centrepoint for banters on PV markets and futures. The area, organised by EuPD Research and Intersolar Europe, hosted a plethora of talks and discussions during the three-day exhibition. One such conference was in relation to the ‘Joint Forces for Solar’ focus, an EuPD Research initiative that is attempting to drive the adoption of solar energy via collaboration on the part of the major players and by lobbying government decision-makers to incentivise its uptake in a more comprehensive manner. David Owen, CEO of Solar Media Ltd. was an invited discussion board member of one of these talks, and sat on stage with such industry luminaries as Gerhard Stryi-Hipp of Fraunhofer ISE, Lars Waldemann from Schott Solar and Björn Emde from Suntech Power Europe, among others (see photo).

Intersolar Europe 2011 seemed to be a very successful show in all respects, from exhibitors to visitors, and from conference attendees to exhibition staff. We’re already looking forward to rest of the summer’s events – although they might not render us starry-eyed, we’re sure they will serve to continue to delight, educate and further drive the world to a PV-powered future!

28 September 2021
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