Intersolar Europe, the world's largest exhibition for the solar industry and its partners, has paid tribute to the solar industry's innovative strength for the seventh time. The ten most innovative companies were honored during an official ceremony that took place today at Intersolar Europe's Innovation Exchange.
The Intersolar AWARD was presented to groundbreaking solutions in the categories of Photovoltaics (PV) and Solar Projects in Europe. For the first time, the electrical energy storage (ees) AWARD recognizes innovations in battery and energy storage technology.
This year, around 3,500 companies from all international Intersolar exhibitions and the electrical energy storage (ees) exhibition were invited to impress the jury with their innovations.
Applicants could only put forward products, projects, services and solutions which were undergoing testing, which were already in use or which showed significant developments to existing technologies at the time of submission.
All solar projects had to have been completed within the last two years. The assessment criteria reflected the challenges posed by the market. Experts examined the degree of technological innovation, the benefit for industry, the environment and society, the economic viability of the solution and proof of its innovative quality.
Energy storage is now one of the greatest challenges faced by the energy transition. Hosted by Intersolar Europe, the international electrical energy storage (ees) exhibition provides a platform for the entire value-added chain of battery and energy storage technologies. The exhibition is supplemented by the electrical energy storage (ees) AWARD, taking place this year for the first time, which honors outstanding products and solutions in the fields of materials, production, systems technology, applications, second- use concepts and recycling.
Winners in the Photovoltaics category
SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) from Niestetal in the district of Kassel, Germany, presented the SMA Fuel Save Controller, which combines diesel generators and photovoltaic installations to considerably reduce diesel consumption. This enables up to 60 percent of a generator's output to be supplemented by photovoltaics. This potential can be boosted further with modular expansion and using batteries. The jury was won over by this product: "The SMA Fuel Save Controller bridges the gap between the two worlds of fossil and renewable energy and opens up new business areas to solar companies," said the jury of experts.
Steca Elektronik GmbH from Memmingen, Germany, was honored for its Solar MPPT charge controller Steca Tarom MPPT 6000-M. The versatile, compact charge controller supports different types of storage systems, including lithium-ion, lead, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries. The use of intelligent charge algorithms, battery diagnostics and safety functions, which increase battery life, was praised in particular. What's more, the controller stands out thanks to its outstanding equipment and high efficiency level. In principle, the input voltage of 200 V enables solar modules to be directly connected. The jury also praised the integrated microSD data logger as well as the two separate entry points with two independent MPP trackers providing more flexibility.
The innovative cooling system of the SOLAR WARE® SAMURAI central inverter makes the product reliable, fail-safe and easy to maintain. Manufacturer TMEIC Corporation from Tokyo, Japan, uses water cooling with heat pipes, which eliminates the need for pumps and only requires a low amount of air. Even if the ventilators fail, the inverter is guaranteed to work at an efficiency rate of up to 50 percent.
The inverters' high resistance makes them suitable for regions with high solar irradiation and extreme weather, which increases profitability. Last but not least, the jury praised the device for being environmentally friendly, which it achieves thanks to its high efficiency level and by not using coolants - all in all, good reasons for winning the Intersolar AWARD.
Winners in the Solar Projects in Europe category
The forward-thinking combined heat and power supply system is setting a precedent: GOLDBECK Solar GmbH, based in Hirschberg an der Bergstraße, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, was honored for its exemplary heat and supply system in the School & Sports Center Marienheide in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The company has implemented a forward-thinking combined power and heat supply system, which combines the technologies of photovoltaic installations and decentralized heat/power-generation units. The system is ideally suited to covering electricity and heat requirements on demand, enabling fluctuating solar energy to be partially balanced out and providing more self-sufficiency with regards to electricity and heat.
IBC Solar AG, located in Bad Staffelstein, Bavaria, Germany, presented its exemplary City solar power plant in Hölzengraben, Kaiserslautern project. Its pioneering approach shows that it is possible to finance ground-mounted installations despite reductions in feed-in tariffs.
The ground-mounted PV installation boasts a rated output of 6.4 megawatts (MWp) and is located on the outskirts of Kaiserslautern, Germany, on a former municipal waste landfill right next to an industrial area. Two locally based companies became investors and now use the generated solar power at the low cost of less than 10 euro cents per kilowatt hour. Installing the PV installation has helped to partially finance redevelopment works to the former municipal waste landfill, has considerably eased the burden on the government budget and has increased the attractiveness of the industrial area.
LTi REEnergy GmbH from Unna, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, erected a 15 MWp ground-mounted installation on a former gypsum site in Zelzate, Belgium, highlighting the numerous benefits of solar energy. The Terranova - new earth project made the previously polluted area usable and exemplarily got small investors and residents to take part. The installation offers self-sufficiency as well as additional returns on investment, meaning that the investors benefit many times over. In addition, the project is outstanding in terms of technology and design. Residents also appreciate the fact that the installation reduces the level of dust from the landfill - LTi REEnergy's liquid-cooled inverters are ideally suited to use in conditions with high levels of dust.
Winners of the ees AWARD
Ideal Power Inc, based in Texas, USA, put forward its 30 kW hybrid PV storage converter IHC-30kW-480, which combines PV and battery at a high DC voltage level and stands out with an efficiency level of up to 97 percent. A further operating voltage of 450 to 1,000 V DC provides an extremely high level of flexibility. Other advantages are the modular set-up as well as the mobile fields of application, particularly in off-grid systems.
International Power Supply from Sofia, Bulgaria, showcased an optimal system for off-grid use in the form of the Exeron MX, which fulfils all requirements surrounding energy management, communication and modularity. Optimized controller designs enable different energy sources to be combined. The jury was won over by the stringent modular design, easy-to-maintain hot plug technology, advanced lead battery management as well as the increased availability thanks to excellent system redundancy.
The ViZn Z20 Energy Storage System by ViZn Energy Systems, Montana, USA, uses a new redox-flow battery technology for commercial applications from 160 kWh. The jury was impressed by the well- designed, ecological prototypes, which mostly avoid the use of dangerous substances in storage systems. New patent applications underpin the system's innovative strength. The use of cost-efficient raw materials translates to the potential for considerable cost reductions, particularly in comparison with today's vanadium redox-flow technology - another reason why the product was honored with the ees AWARD.