Intersolar 2020 brought innovation, collaboration and inspiration to sunny San Diego for three full days last week. As always, Clean Power Marketing Group was there to meet with old friends, forge new partnerships, and soak in the collective passion of professionals in our industry (along with our fair share of Vitamin D).
Although smaller than the large-and-in-charge Solar Power International, Intersolar offers a unique opportunity for deeper conversations and reflection among attendees, thought leaders and media professionals — and this year’s new location did not disappoint.
Ravi Manghani, head of Solar for Wood Mackenzie, kicked off our conference with the research presentation Solar + Energy Storage + e-Mobility: Betting on the New Energy Trifecta, an excellent, data-packed overview of what to expect in the year to come. Among the predictions, the residential market will increase 34% from 2019 to 2021. Market momentum is on the planet’s side, as we reflected in our own predictions for 2020.
We spoke with a number of groundbreaking companies and established brands doing notable work in our rapidly evolving space. Here are a few highlights:
Ergosun: Does Elon Musk know about this?
Elon and company have been dangling the Tesla solar roof in front (or above) us for some time now, and new companies are entering the space. Ergosun was one that captured attention at the show.
Ergosun showcased its Integrated Solar Roof Tiles at the conference, presenting its product as a solarized concrete roof tile system. Check it out:
Our take: There are many questions to answer about this product (namely the installation process and efficiency), but seeing other players step up to the solar roofing challenge is exciting.
Panasonic Perovskite Panels: What are they, and how the heck do you pronounce that?
Panasonic has been a heavy, though intermittent, hitter in the solar sector. This year, the company debuted its new perovskite (PA-ROV-SKITE) solar modules.
Just last month, PV Magazine reported that Panasonic achieved a record 16.09% efficiency for its lightweight perovskite modules, based on an inkjet printing method, with a slender depth of 2mm.
Our take: It will be interesting to see how this technology can fill the need for solar in places where conventional PV cannot support the weight of traditional systems (metal roofs, anyone?).
Mirror Mirror on the Panel…
Another solar panel technology that caught our eyes came from Canada-based ISP Solar. Remember Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems, with the large array of mirrors and a central collector — the Crescent Dunes project in Nevada the most notable? These massive systems had promising technology but proved not a good long-term bet as solar costs came tumbling down for other technologies.
ISP has scaled down the CSP mirror technology and inserted it into a solar panel, dubbing this approach ‘Intensifying Solar Panels’ at Intersolar 2020. The patented conic mirror system that differentiate ISP modules from traditional panels require just 1/20th of the PV cells of traditional panels to deliver the same performance, according to company founders. ISP believes this will make the systems easier to build and deploy, and ultimately cheaper as well — potentially providing power at half the cost-per-watt of any other solar panel in the world.
ISP Solar’s head engineer Jean Philippe explained: “Our goal is to make solar panels both more affordable and greener. By breaking the affordability barrier, we will deliver a faster return on investment.”
Our take: An innovative twist on a technology that has gone to scale before. Time will tell whether costs can come down fast enough for the price-conscious solar distribution channel.
PV Recycling Comes of Age
Decked out in bright orange shirts, the team at We Recycle Solar were eager to share the company’s comprehensive, direct-to-refinery approach to recycling and the “absolute disposal” of equipment, including PV modules, inverters, batteries, mounts and racks.
The company offers a cost-competitive approach to preventing products from entering the “gray market” — where panels are illegally reused and repurposed, creating potential power production losses and safety hazards.
AJ Orben, Vice President of Operations at WeRecycle, emphasized the company’s highly coordinated logistics team with decades of experience as market differentiators, and key to WeRecycle’s tremendous growth.
Below is a map of the markets where WeRecycle operates, with the team quick to point out that its robust partnerships give them wide latitude (and longitude) to meet any company’s PV recycling needs, large or small.
Our take: WeRecycle Solar’s footprint will undoubtedly continue to expand as more panels reach end-of-life and our industry finally comes to terms with the need to prioritize recycling.
Clawing Its Way to the Top of PV Analytics
Raptor Maps was a project co-founded in 2014 by Johns Hopkins grad Nikhil Vadhavkar, specializing in software and machine learning for the solar industry. Since its inception, Raptor Maps has been punching above its weight in the increasingly competitive space of aerial software solutions and turnkey PV analytics for solar companies.
With operations now spanning six continents, Raptor Maps has analyzed more than 15 GW of energized PV systems worldwide across utility-scale and C&I, identifying over $25M of lost annual revenue – not bad for a scrappy startup just six years ago.
It was standing room only at Nikhil’s Intersolar presentation: How aerial inspections are increasing production, reducing costs, and enabling digitization across the entire solar industry.
If you missed the presentation, a primer into Raptor Maps data analytics can be found in its recently released 2020 Global Solar Aerial Thermography Report, which encompassed 31 million modules across more than 800 PV systems.
Our take: What excites us is not just the success of Raptor Maps, but the proof that our industry is truly maturing, with other sectors (such as drone operators, real estate conglomerates, and utilities) actively trying to collaborate.
Hard-Working Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery Does Good
Over delicious, and I mean delicious tacos with the head of marketing for Energport (the “G” is pronounced, clever eh?), we learned about this hardworking storage company. Founded in 2016, Energport focuses on integrated storage systems using automotive grade, lithium-iron phosphate battery cells, which it touts as one of the safest lithium-ion battery chemistries on the market.
The company can customize the system size from residential to utility scale at a competitive price (including leasing), and is looking to expand to the EV industry as well.
Check out this video of Energport’s early installations.
Our take: The battery technology is established and the company has demonstrated it can deliver. (This was in no way influenced by the tacos.)
Looking out on the horizon
In our last post, we made a few humble predictions about where 2020 was going to take our sector. Reflecting on the industry’s growth over a gorgeous ocean sunset, we couldn’t help but feel a deep appreciation for those who have laid the groundwork for solar, storage, and EVs to finally have their day in the sun.
With the close of a re-energized Intersolar North America, the outlook for the coming year (and decade) looks bright indeed.
Want to be part of the conversation? Contact us to share your news and elevate your profile in our industry and beyond. We look forward to working with you!
By Zubin Segal and Nancy Edwards