Fast disappearing are the days that PV modules can be marketed in isolation of a host of other ancillaries. The ever present pressure on module costs and prices diverts attention to system costs and where other savings can be made. Coupled to fierce competition throughout the supply chain - offering more than just modules for residential, commercial and utility markets - is the new name in the game.
More than modules
Typical of this ‘more than module’ approach is being touted by Sanyo at SPI 2011. Sanyo as normal is showcasing its high-performance HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer) series of modules it will also be showcasing and using show business to promote its new financing program for the US residential market.
Environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr. will be at the Sanyo’s booth #2508 on Tuesday, October 18 to promote the new program, which is being announced with an as yet unidentified financial partner.
Sanyo is also displaying its advanced energy storage system, which uses 1.6-kWh modules, each with 312 18650 lithium-ion cylindrical cells, the same cell used in laptop computers and automobiles.
Sanyo says that the modules are scalable to make a 1.6-kWh system or a 1-MWh system operating as one single, giant battery. This can also provide emergency power backup supply, and to help shift peak demand from the daytime high to help utilities manage the distribution network.
Then Sanyo has its HIT modules shown with PV Trackers at its outside booth #125-OD. PV Trackers are designed to extract the most performance from its modules and claims they increases megawatt-hour production levels by approximately 40-50% in comparison to a fixed-rack system.
Another planning to reveal a new developer financing package and partnerships at SPI is Phono Solar while showcasing their latest modules.
"Following our strong participation at Intersolar, we are excited about Solar Power International," shares Chris Kamykowski. "Our new AC Modules offers an innovative approach to maximizing performance while eliminating the need for expensive DC wiring. Equally as impressive, our new HEC Modules - available only on the US market - feature +3% positive tolerance for increased productivity. Added to that, we have financing and partnership programs to talk about, so it should be a great show."
Also expecting a great show is Sungevity having established a new residential solar fund that will support over US$50 million of new U.S. residential solar lease projects with Rabobank. The funding is expected to support over 1,000 residential PV installations.
The residential solar company has experienced a banner year in 2011 due to a successful East Coast expansion and a major partnership with Lowe's, the world's second largest home improvement retailer. Since January 2011, monthly sales have increased ten-fold and employee headcount has tripled to approximately 300 at the company's Oakland, CA headquarters. Sungevity’s team will be at booth 6067, though not all 300 of them!
Another electronics powerhouse, Samsung, via its Samsung SDI subsidiary is also capitalising on in-house module and battery manufacturing capabilities to offer the residential market a PV module, inverter and power storage package (ESS) or Energy Storage System as well as energy management solutions, which were initially launched earlier this year at Intersolar Europe.
High-performance modules offered by Samsung include its SP + Series, employing selective emitter technology and 260/W output.
However, it is not just the big companies getting into the act of providing more than modules.
US-based PV manufacturer, Suniva said it was partnering with balance of system component providers to offer its own Balance of System Solutions (BOSS). This collaboration with selected inverter, mounting and battery storage providers is a new strategy for the company that is being launched at SPI this year.
“Our balance of system solutions allow solar integrators and EPC’s to offer pre-engineered photovoltaic systems to customers who adhere to high quality standards,” said Anthony Coker, senior director of market and solutions development for Suniva. “These partnerships help extend our mission to maximize kilowatt hours produced, while reducing the cost of PV ownership.”
BOSS partners include inverter companies SMA and PowerOne, while mounting system providers include PanelClaw and Schletter. Suniva is also teaming on integrated energy storage systems with Silent Power and advanced storage technology from GS Battery.
Suniva’s thinking is typical of the new trend with the aim of enabling a higher degree of optimization of their own monocrystalline modules, powered by their ‘ARTisun’ series solar cells to improve the performance and reliability of the entire system and improve the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE).Suniva’S BOSS products are to be displayed on booth #1945.
Alpha Energy Booth #801 is taking a modular approach to a new suite of solar power solutions. The company will feature charging stations for the Bravo Electric Scooter, which will be raffled off to booth visitors in exchange for providing feedback on the use of solar power today.
Its PVPS solution allows users to design completely independent solar power systems based on DC power (no inverter) to let them operate independently of local utility regulations and AC permit processes. It is claimed to get renewable electricity up-and-running faster with no hassles and where a DC system is appropriate.
Alpha Energy will also be showcasing its Hybrid AC/DC connects to multiple sources generating DC power (solar, wind, hydro), which is designed for remote installations such as military facilities and pipeline companies, where multiple sources of renewable energy may be used.
Finally, the company has a Modular Power System, which is a storage solution with batteries, an inverter and a charge controller integrated into one assembly. It targets areas with unreliable grid power and can store grid electricity and power from solar panels or other on-site power generation.
Also offering integrated power solutions is Solaire Generation at booth 324. One of growing number of companies targeting the PV carport space, Solaire Generation is launching the Solaire Long Span R5 system, designed as a modular truss structure system, PV module are inclined 5 degrees towards the sun to increase energy production. The system is engineered to work in all climate regions and features an optional snow and ice guard. The unique design is claimed to maximize the total system size on any parking garage structure.
A well known name, Kyocera Solar is also active in the PV carport market. At SPI this year, the company is showcasing a recently completed 300 kilowatt parking lot canopy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center — an installation that is comprised of 1,250 Kyocera KD240 modules produced at Kyocera’s San Diego manufacturing facility.
Kyocera is also displaying its KD315 80-cell module, the most recently developed module showcasing Kyocera's advanced technology, which is expected to be used in large-scale commercial installations.
Kyocera is another that is offering pre-engineered solar energy kits, dubbed MyGem, which are designed for residential or small-sized commercial buildings and can be used for both new construction and retrofit applications. In addition to the current rooftop array, Kyocera will offer the MyGen Ground Mount Solution — an installation option providing variety and adaptability for optimal energy production.
Global Solar Energy
In the case of commercial and industrial buildings, Global Solar Energy is partnering with a host of firms to provide BIPV solutions, employing its ‘PowerFLEX’ BIPV flexible module, based on Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) thin film solar cell technology.
Global Solar has obviously been busy as its partnering with Beachside Solar, the largest commercial roofing contractor in Hawaii and the South Pacific region; Inovateus, a national solar power distributor and integrator; Pfister Energy, a turnkey renewable energy systems provider; and Soprema, a manufacturer in the commercial roofing and waterproofing industry.
Global Solar claims that its BIPV is a fast and seamless integration into roofing systems, reducing costs.
Continuing with a BIPV theme of sorts, Solon is launching the ‘SOLquick’, a patent pending new plug-and-play commercial rooftop solution. Solon is making bold claims for SOLquick – touting a reduction in mechanical installation time by over 85% and electrical installation time by 50%. SOLquick’s integrated laminate plus mount design features Fibrex material from Andersen Corporation. Solon has partnered on an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Andersen, offering lightweight frames.
SOLquick will be showcased at Solon’s booth #3820, where Solon will be taking reservations for Q1 2012 delivery.
Taking advantage of two recently completed power plant installations using its tracking technology, Opel Solar will be highlighting its TF-800 solar tracking systems at its booth #6219. The TF-800 tracker systems, which have been designed for extreme wind conditions, came by withstanding the high winds with the recent Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene.
Designed to be lighter, faster and more conducive to shipping and packaging, Unirac is showcasing its second generation ISYS Ground Mount racking system in Dallas on booth 3037. This improved version of IGM is constructed of roll formed C-channel beams rather than the roll formed and toggle-locked I-beams used for the earlier version of IGM. This clever design cuts down on material use while maintaining the same structural integrity.
Unirac claims that manufacturing time is slashed by as much as 50% through the use of C-channel beams, drastically reducing project ramp-up time. On a typical 1 MW project, the shipping weight of the new IGM rails can be reduced by as much as 14% over the earlier design, noted Unirac.