The solar industry is always evolving which is why we headed down to Intersolar 2014. Intersolar is an international trade show that provides industry specific conferences, product exhibits, and advanced training. Our main goal (besides finding some local craft brew!) was to talk to emerging energy storage vendors about backup power solutions.
Day 1 – The day before the conference
We arrived in San Francisco a day early so we could attend an early morning conference on Monday. Road the BART. Climbed some hills. Saw some sites. Drank some good beer.
Day 2 – ASES (American Solar Energy Society) Sessions
Multiple sessions were available, we attended all the energy storage discussions. Most of these focused on utility scale storage solutions and emerging markets. A hand full of energy storage companies presented their storage technologies being developed.
While a lot of technical issues were discussed, no tangible products were revealed except for Aquion’s Hybrid Ion batteries.
Day 3 – Product Exhibits
The product exhibits were great and allowed us to discuss new technologies and code changes with manufacturer representatives. Below are the highlights of the exhibits we visited:
- SolarWorld – We love solarworld modules because of their competitive pricing and unmatched quality. There wasn’t much we didn’t already know about their product line but we did get to see the new Protect line that offers extra durability and 30 year warranty. These modules will work great in areas where mechanical loads or flying projectiles might be an issue. Otherwise, the commonly found pro-series will still be our most recommended product. We had a great discussion with a representative about the ethics and responsibilities that panel manufacturers in the USA have to uphold compared to their overseas competitors.
- LG Solar – Like SolarWorld we are very familiar with LG’s product line. We use their NEON 290-310W modules when high energy density is required. They have a new AC module that has an integrated micro inverter. We do not install very many AC-module/ micro inverter systems for reasons found in our blog titles string inverters vs micro inverters vs DC optimizers.
- Magnum Energy – Magnum has been a staple in the off grid and backup market for years so a lot of their displays were material we have seen before. They do have a new charge controller coming out soon that will further solidify their offering in small scale off grid systems.
- Glass to Glass modules – I will cover all of these panels at once. The main benefit of these modules is their improved fire rating over traditional panels. This is an advantage if a fire were to start underneath the solar panel. They also benefit from not having a conductive framing which will minimize a small amount of labor during installation. All of these manufacturers insist these panels are available on the market but most suppliers will tell you it a pricey special order.
- ET Solar Double Glass Module – The spec sheet shows 260W poly cells. This panel is not listed on their website yet.
- Almaden Bifacial module – I have never seen this brand before but the module has a sleek look and could provide a cool aesthetic for solar carports and patios. The data sheet I have is for 160-175 watt panels.
- Trina Dual Glass Module – These panels are actually available in the market and come in 245-255 watt models.
- Stion Thin Film modules – These modules looked awesome and we have a supplier with ample supply. They come in a 140-150 watt range so more area will have to be covered for sizable arrays. These panels are jet black and would look great against any dark surface. Stion panels are glass to glass and made in the USA!