INTERSOLAR EUROPE 2018: Review
Having been in the solar industry for nearly a decade, the vast majority of my professional experience comes from the U.S. market. New to the European continent and DWR eco, I was excited for the opportunity to finally attend the world-renowned Intersolar Europe, the solar energy industry’s leading exhibition.
Each year, tens of thousands of energy professionals flock to Munich for the show that was founded 26-years ago. I was able to represent DWR eco’s solar clients with co-founder Doreen Rietentiet who has been attending the event since 2006 and witnessing the ups and downs of the industry and many changes to the event over the years. Probably most notable change in the exhibition this year was the expansion of the event to now exist as SmarterE Europe (and of course, Hanwa Q-Cells having taken position of module manufacturer SolarWorld). As a matter of fact, many long-time Intersolar Europe attendees explained to me that the buzz currently around the storage and e-mobility halls is what the energy used to be like in the PV manufacturer halls. Well, times may have changed.
Nevertheless, I found the event (and the parties) grade-A quality. The industry has been through a series of highs and lows over the years, and this appears to be a continuous trajectory. For solar modules, the key trends that couldn’t be ignored at Intersolar Europe 2018 were the continuous rise in monocrystalline silicon cells, the adoption of bifacial technology, and the expansion offering of solar “kitting” with storage to end consumers. The majority of discussions at the show were surrounding China’s big announcement for the downturn in its national number of projects (a 30% decrease in the Chinese market year-over-year), and what impact the oversupply will have on module prices and the industry.
The new ees Europe exhibitor hall was impressive and a testament to the growth and expansion of batteries and storage. As costs come down and technologies improve, the “old way” of doing power through utility transmission lines and distribution networks on the grid is being disrupted in a major way. True energy independence will become more common with additional homeowners living “off the grid.” This creates a lot of interest and excitement in the future of energy; I believe that the Southern Hemisphere and developing nations worldwide will have an advantage in energy access as infrastructure is developed in a more sustainable manner.
While the event was jampacked with takeaways and there were a lot of exciting announcements and happenings occurring from the moment I woke up until the late-night hotel shuteye… of course, there is always room for improvement. In assessing the industry, I was disappointed to see the lack of female representation and attention to diversity. In the panel I sat on for one of our clients, there were only 3 women (including myself) in a room of more than 60 industry professionals. The 12-person Intersolar Europe Conference Committee also had just one woman represented. And then there was the flabbergasting witnessing of a marketing director being referred to as a “waitress” by an event attendee. In regards to the exhibition itself… As an American, I found the decision to tightly squeeze direct competition right next to each other in a business development environment to be of bad form; I would recommend breathing space for exhibitors within the same segment of the industry and their negotiations.
Attending the Intersolar Europe and the SmarterE Europe conference in Munich was invigorating. It reinforced my gratitude to be part of such a fun, dynamic and innovative industry. Working with some of the largest global leaders within the solar industry and supporting their continued expansion through our boutique strategic communications agency’s expertise at DWR eco is both rewarding and fulfilling. It is exciting to see the growth of where we have come in solar, and even more exciting to see where we are going in the future… hopefully, in a direction with more women.