In June, it was time for the annual solar industry exhibition. Many of us from the Renewable Energies class of 2014 were really excited to go there and see the new technological progress it had to offer. We took the 8 hour long bus ride because our wallets did not allow flight tickets, but it did not stop us from going there anyway. Once in Munich, we were stunned by the large number of companies at the exhibition. There were over a thousand exhibitors waiting to show off their solar panels or battery storage systems. Heliatek, Tesla Motors, SMA, Pheasun, Qcells, REC, and the list continues. To cover a lot of ground, we decided to all split up, walk around, talk to different people, ask questions, gather information and meet up by bumping into each other.
By Vanda Friedrichs
We all found very interesting, different and exciting things. Ciel & Terre had come up with floating plastic like boxes that could allow you to install solar panels (or as we nerds like to call it, Photovoltaic modules) on lakes. Yes, swimming solar panels are a thing now. A company called iKube had a cube/box that could be unfolded into a big solar panel. Now you can simply have a solar panel in your garden, and fold it and put it in the garage when on holiday, tada!
Not only did they offer curving PV modules and panels in different colors, but also large batteries and other electronics that keep the PV systems going. The greatest discovery we made was the Master-Slave system. And no, it has nothing to do with BDSM. I know, I was disappointed too. But basically, it is when one electric component (or inverter) says to another inverter, “I have worked enough, now you do the work for me”.
At the end of the day, we went to the rooftop to see the 2 megawatts PV installment. It has been there for about 18 years and has brought in an annual return of about 500, 000€. You do the math. It was a great sight, since we were able to see a largescale PV system for the first time.
The exhibition went on for 3 days. Most of us returned to Berlin by bus on the same day, but a few stayed an extra day and were invited to parties at the exhibition. They got to experience the great Bavarian food, drinks, dances and yes, Lederhosen. They also got to go to a factory and see how things are made.
We became so inspired from this exhibition that we decided to start our own little pilot project of solar street lamps. We are still at the drawing board, but we will make sure to make updates on our progress.
All in all, it was a fun and knowledgeable experience. We will definitely go again next year.
Opinions from other students on the exhibition:
Christopher G.: I think that Intersolar is different to other expos because people are really interested in other people’s ideas and opinions. They saw that we are not business men but they still came to us and asked us questions. That is different from other parts of the economy; there it is only about money. It was really cool. They were not underestimating us and they didn’t look down on us. We were respected and valued.
Hedar S.: Intersolar gave me both an economical and a structural perspective for the solar market in a global sense, and helped me understand how to develop a foresight for solar technologies and markets.