Light and shades at Intersolar

The solar industry is dead – long life the solar industry … that is the impression many exhibitors and visitors got whilst leaving Intersolar 2012 in Munich. The negative headlines of the past have not been without impact – obviously – and that`s why the industry was clearly trying to push and motivate itself as well as its customers and suppliers.

After the boom of the last few years a break and a phase of consolidation was more than due – that is for sure. However, that “timeout” could last longer and be much more profound than many players might hope. Certainly especially in Germany the expected cuts of subsidies and the predicted price drops will hit some companies hard. That is why despite Fukushima and the decision that Germany is going to shut down its nuclear power plants there was one key topic in most discussions at the trade show in Munich: the decline of margins and the need to be more cost-efficient.

EIGHT took some pictures at Intersolar

One of the solar charging stations at Intersolar

Prior to the exhibition the organizers have expected over 80.000 visitors. After three days the official count said 66.000. Also the predicted number of exhibitors has been missed: Instead of the expected 2.000 exhibitors there have been 1.900 companies at the show presenting their ideas. Nevertheless these numbers are quite respectable for an industry that is going through a challenging time.

Old classics and new classics

For many years the exhibition shows several core topics such as PV production technology, solar panels and solutions on how to integrate solar power with the grid. In addition solar heat and energy storage have been presented at Intersolar once more and the vendors came up with some minor and some big innovations. And so they did in 2012.

Consequently the show as well as the industry needs to gain some momentum, and this is why in 2012 there was the premiere of the special show “PV and E-Mobility”. Here the visitors got the opportunity to learn more about the combination of PV-carports, charging stations and the latest electric vehicles.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to show something “innovative and exciting” to the public uncovered one of the biggest weaknesses of the industry: to be successful and to convince people it takes more than just technology that serves a certain goal. There are more factors to economical success than just technology!

Another solar carport at Intersolar

Most solutions looked quite similar in 2012

Regrettably most exhibitors didn´t do anything more that showing decently working solar charging stations to the people – no emotions, no excitement, no verve. It looks like the majority of vendors do not want to provide more than just some additional space for solar panels with a charging element. There was not a single company that came up with a holistic concept that could drive and form the change towards emissions-free e-mobility. Inspiring innovations? Nope.

More creativity, please

What we have seen at “PV and E-Mobility” was quite surprising. Not because it wasn’t creative and innovative but because it was the opposite of what most experts ask for: The market demands solutions that combine contemporary design, the seamless integration of the latest technologies, a new understanding of usability and sustainable production processes. If the industry wants to inaugurate a new era of mobility which will have a massive impact on the infrastructure of the cities and how people live in the  cities of the future, there has to be more than just a new (but boring) composition of old elements.

It´s a fact that these kinds of solar carports will not be the saviors of the PV-industry and the supporters of e-mobility are hoping for. There has to be a change of minds. Solar technology and mobility have to become a vital element of contemporary lifestyle.  But therefore the products and solutions have to meet the wishes and demands of the consumers – and they ask, more than ever before, for goods that enthuse them because of their design, features for interaction and uniqueness. Otherwise the industry will face way more shadow than light in the future.

In 2013 from June 19th – June 21st Intersolar will take place at Munich again. Let´s hope for the whole industry that the decision makers listen more carefully to what the people ask for. Maybe then they will take the chance to come up with some innovative ideas that combine e-mobility and solar energy in a sustainable and user-friendly way.

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  1. Sass Peress says:

    Phillip
    We must also be aware that the manner in which “mass appeal” will be attained is through executable, replicable and affordable design. I believe we should commend the efforts already on display from the simplest to the most complicated, since these are pioneers that dared to make the investment into the trade show space and accompanying costs.

    There is no question of the Point.One’s beauty, ergonomics and ability to attach itself to innovative brand marketing. What the market wants, the market gets. It is up to the innovators to make sure they are listening to the market, and not trying to beat to a drummer so different, that nobody in the end appreciates their beautiful music.

    There is no stronger basis from which to capture a market than through the philosophy of empowerment and elevation. For this reason, I suggest that we applaud all of the “dare devils” who were out there in rain or shine, and appreciate their efforts. There is a saying in Japanese that I learned as I passed Mount Fuji on a bullet train in late 1990s… “Ishoni gambarimasho”…meaning: We are stronger together.

    Cheers and keep up the great thought-provoking posts,

    Sass

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