Solar Power International 2009: A Quick Review


Lots of exhibitors–not much new

SolarPower International 2009 in Anaheim, California this week had much ofthe same energy–pun intended–of last year’s trade show in San Diego.There seemed to be more exhibitors as the solar industry is one of thevery few growth sectors in the world’s economy.

Still, like last year’s trade show, there seemed very little that was new.

AscentSolar (ASTI), of Littleton, Colorado has brought its copper, indium,gallium, selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells to market recently andthey look much like UniSolar’s thin-film laminates. Both arelightweight and flexible (pictured) but the main differences are thatAscent’s PV uses a plastic substrate whereas UniSolaruses a thin layer of stainless steel on which its amorphous silicon(a-Si) is deposited. Also, Ascent is claiming 10-12% efficiency of itscells as opposed to UniSolar’s 7-8%. On Monday, Ascent announced NRELmeasured 14.01% cell efficiency for Ascent Solar CIGS material. As aresult Ascent is planning to add 1% per year to its manufactured PV forworldwide sales. Obviously, this puts thin-film efficiency in paritywith most standard crystalline but at significantly less cost per watt.Ascent’s PV will be ideal for single-membrane (TPO) roofing solutions.

Groundarray foundation posts are a lot simpler to install with Saber SolarFoundations. Saber’s posts (available for various weight loads) simplyscrew into the ground like an auger and don’t require cement forholding. The rep at at Saber’s booth said this type of foundation meetsmost municipal building codes. Saber is located in Corona Del Mar,California and offers its drill-posts nationwide:www.saberfoundations.com.

One company offered an automatic panelcleaning solution for areas with limited rainfall (which normally"self-clean" panels). A thin spray of water and mild detergent isapplied for three minutes daily to clear panels of natural soiling.Water can be recycled by placing rain gutters on the lower edge of anarray. Unfortunately, in the Southwest where such an application ismost needed is also experiencing a long-term drought and water isgetting precious. So, for large arrays this solution could be costprohibitive.

More solar tracking manufacturers were exhibitingthan last year as production-based incentives are becoming moreprevalent worldwide.

Always held in California, Solar Power International 2010 will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center, October 12-14.

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