Market Insights

Intelligently Connecting Renewable Energies and Storage Systems

August 18, 2016 by Roland Ackerman

The Intersolar Europe exhibition and conference, celebrating its 25th anniversary, united the solar industry and its partners .

The Intersolar Europe exhibition and conference, celebrating its 25th anniversary, united the solar industry and its partners – manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service providers – last June in Munich. In parallel the ees, Europe´s largest exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems connected with the world´s leading solar event. The focus of the exhibitions and the comprehensive accompanying programs was on the newest trends, services and products for the energy supply of the future.  

The share of global electricity generated by solar photovoltaics (PV) could increase from 2 per cent today to as much as 13 per cent by 2030, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Released at InterSolar Europe "Letting in the Light: How Solar Photovoltaics Will Revolutionize the Electricity System" finds the solar industry is poised for massive expansion, driven primarily by cost reductions. It estimates that solar PV capacity could reach between 1,760 and 2,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 227 GW today.

Packed halls and high spirits among exhibitors and visitors: Intersolar and ees Europe drew to a close after great success. 2016 saw strong growth, in particular for ees Europe. Intersolar and ees Europe 2016 presented systems and communication technologies, and new services and business models – including small and large electrical storage systems, intelligent transformers and virtual power plants.


The exhibition space
Figure 1: The exhibition space


The exhibition space grew by 40% and the number of exhibitors by 35%. 213 battery and energy storage manufacturers showcased their products at ees Europe alone, and an impressive 369 of the total 1,077 exhibitors across Intersolar Europe and EES Europe presented pioneering energy storage solutions. Around 60% of the companies at both exhibitions came from outside Germany, although with 351 exhibitors, Germany was the country with the largest number of exhibitors. Together, the two exhibitions recorded an 8.4% increase in the net exhibition area. In comparison with the previous year, 7% more exhibitors came to Munich in 2016. Approximately 43,000 visitors travelled from 160 countries, making Intersolar and ees Europe once again the most international events in the industry.


Numerous Innovations Exhibited

The industry launched numerous solutions and innovations, e.g. Siemens presented SIESTORAGE, a modular electrical energy storage system and a stable and reliable power supply. It facilitates integration of renewable energy sources and can help to reduce the use of fossil fuel generation moving towards a more modern eco-friendly grid. Moreover, the Spectrum Power ANM is an effective lever for operating distribution grids more efficiently and with greater control. And the company supports energy needs with customized hybridization solutions.

Daimler continues to expand its network of expertise in the field of lithium-ion battery applications. The newly established Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH focusses on stationary batteries. The usable storage capacity of the lithium-ion batteries can be increased from 4.6 to 18 kWh in six steps.

H-TEC Systems, a subsidiary of GP JOULE introduced innovative solutions to store electric power as hydrogen using PEM electrolysis so as to compensate for the grid fluctuations that occur in the generation of wind and solar power. In a stack the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen is carried out in up to 100 cells; the hydrogen leaves the stacks at a pressure of 30 bar and is thus especially easy to store. 

Deutsche Energieversorgung GmbH (DEV) increased the system efficiency of its award-winning SENEC.Home lithium storage system to up to 90.5%. It is available with storage capacities of 5, 7.5 and 10 kWh, with a 15 kWh version coming up soon. An Intersolar first were SENEC. Business 12,5 - 20 Li (including 2 inverters) and SENEC.Business 22,5 - 30 Li (3 inverters) – both can be expanded and combined up to a total capacity of 210 kWh.


Deutsche Energieversorgung's SENEC, a home lithium storage system.
Figure 2: Deutsche Energieversorgung's SENEC, a home lithium storage system.


The smart solar portfolio of ABB, the world´s broadest portfolio of solar products available from one manufacturer, presented best-in-class solutions for residential, commercial, and utility customers, especially inverters and advanced low-voltage components.

SolarWorld introduced the Bisun System – a bifacial solar cell technology combined with optimized racking and 300W high-performance module for free-field and flat roof systems. Light reflected onto the rear side of the module enables higher yields of up to 25 per cent.

A leader in solar monitoring, Solare Datensysteme GmbH (SDS) showcased its latest production innovations and enhancements, like thee Solar-Log EDO Smart Heater Ethernet, Solar-Log API aand Solar-Log Insight App for Windows 10.


More than just an exhibition

From the very beginning, Intersolar’s founders have been guided by a vision of a solar future. To this end, they have cooperated closely with solar energy groups and associations since the exhibition’s early days – initially fighting for sufficient remuneration to cover the costs of generating solar energy, then working on the 100,000 Rooftops program and the German renewable energy act (EEG). This type of collaboration in part laid the groundwork for Intersolar’s success story. Intersolar is more than just an exhibition, it supports solar industry far beyond the scope of purely organizational or administrative activities.

The overarching aim is to develop renewable energies, particularly solar energy. To this end, the themes covered by the exhibitions and conferences always address the particular focus, aims, and challenges of regional markets – for example, reducing emissions or supplying remote regions with affordable, clean energy. The aim of each event is to promote and support the local solar energy industry, so the events bring together the best minds and technologies from all over the world.

Intersolar sees itself as a reliable partner to exhibitors and visitors, leveraging this role to further develop its international presence and comprehensive selection of premium services along the complete solar industry value chain. It provides a forum for the industry where experts can meet up – a place for showcasing best-practice solutions and promoting the international exchange of expertise. Together with the parallel event ees Europe, Intersolar Europe sent the market a positive signal to mark its 25-year anniversary. The solar and storage market is growing around the world, and this momentum could be clearly felt in Munich. Exhibitors and visitors were extremely pleased with the event.


100% Renewables

Intersolar’s organizers are convinced that the global energy transition will be a success. They are certain that 100 percent renewables is achievable, with photovoltaics and wind energy serving as central pillars for a future-ready energy grid and effective climate protection. The aim of Intersolar is to safeguard solar energy supplies on a global scale. The steps that need to be taken to achieve this goal and the challenges this brings are very different depending on where you are in the world. In the meantime, Intersolar brings together people, markets, and technologies on four continents in a truly unique way – effectively, comprehensively, sustainably.

Over the past 25 years, the worldwide photovoltaic industry has undergone significant changes in this time: Solar energy is well on its way to becoming the most inexpensive form of energy generation – in many parts of the world, electricity production costs for solar energy from photovoltaics (PV) are already as low as 5 to 7 euro cents per kilowatt-hour. For this reason, PV as well as wind power will play a central role in the energy supply of the future. Storage systems are the backbone of this new energy world, as they guarantee supply safety, and are therefore an important catalyst for the global energy transition. In contrast, fossil fuel and nuclear power generators are steadily being forced into decline.


Smart Energy Connection

Sensibly integrating clean energy into the grids and shaping the transition to the new energy world is essential for the future, which is why smart renewable energy was the key topic at this year’s Intersolar and ees Europe. The exhibitions linked the topics of energy generation, storage, grid integration and energy management. Equally important at the exhibition: Smart technologies that analyze and optimize power generation and consumption as well as interconnect various pieces of technical equipment to help create smart concepts for utilizing, managing and storing renewable energy. The technological home – and future – of this new energy world is Germany and Europe. More renewable energy is integrated into the grids here than anywhere else in the world, and nowhere else is there more expertise and experience in this area.

The new focus on smart renewable energy and the accompanying forum proved particularly popular with visitors. At the forum, Intersolar was supplemented by an Innovation & Application Forum, where the exhibitors showcased their innovations in 15-minute presentations and where the AWARD finalists presented their projects. It was particularly popular with visitors. Moreover, the Smart Renewable Energy Forum intended to show the future of modern energy supply. Exhibitors and experts showcased potential solutions for combining renewable energies and storage in a smart power grid. On the other hand, besides the ees Forum, there were special exhibits "E-Mobility & Renewable Energy" and "Wind Meets Solar and Storage".


Prices of Solar Power Storage Units Fell by One Third

Following German BSW (Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft), the number of installed home storage devices will double every two years at least until 2020. Driver of this positive development are sharply falling prices and an increasing desire for independence. Acquisition costs for turnkey home solar power storage units (already 40,000 installed in Germany) fell by more than 30 per cent due to technical progress and economies of scale in the past 24 months.


Continuing global growth

Prospects for the global solar industry are sunny. According to GTM Research, a Boston-based market research institute, 59 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity were installed in 2015, one third more than in the previous year. In 2016 the total installed capacity worldwide is expected to increase from 64 to 321 gigawatts, where especially strong growth is expected in the USA (due to the incentive program Investment Tax Credit) and in China.


Start of the Future of Energy Supply

The major challenges facing the sustainable energy industry are the digitalization and networking of technologies. The modern energy supply is both smart and renewable. Photovoltaics (PV) is booming worldwide: According to SolarPower Europe, over 50 gigawatts (GW) of new PV capacity was added worldwide in 2015, including 8 GW installed in Europe. The total global capacity has reached approximately 228 GW, around 100 GW of which are in Europe.

Millions of decentralized renewable energy plants, storage systems and consumers who draw power not just from the grid, but also use environmentally friendly methods to generate power — this is the energy world of the future. To achieve, we need modern, intelligent infrastructure and storage options to make it possible to connect the many different renewable energy installations and also to offset the temporal fluctuations in supply from renewable energy sources.

Consumption and generation are automatically analyzed and optimized, creating smart energy. Large-scale storage systems and intelligent networks are already being combined with decentralized photovoltaic installations and battery storage systems for domestic power supply to provide the public grid with balancing power.


This article originally appeared in the Bodo’s Power Systems magazine.