Solar modules on the floor at Intersolar North America 2018

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Intersolar 2018 in San Francisco – a gathering of solar power professionals looking to learn more, further their careers, and meet their sales quotas! With this, you get to see some of the cutting edge future – but also you get to learn which manufacturers have earned customer trust, and thus staying power year after year.

And with that…

Meyer Burger doesn’t sell you the solar panels – but they sell you the machines that make them better. This panel is  a 480W of bifacial, smart wire, heterojunction product. Multiple companies deploy either one or the other of these two technologies, with Solartech Universal in Riviera Beach, Florida using both. The front side capacity – excluding the bifacial reflection wattage – is approximately 410 watts. Note the close-up image and how many tiny wires there are, versus thick busbars.

The Corning Glass people were showing off an experimental solar shingle – a nearly pure glass, custom solar product. The solar cells are being designed specifically for this purpose. The Corning representative said they didn’t know if the product would come to market – but they loved showing off their glass making ability. There was no data on efficiency or potential market timing.

Hanergy’s ‘Meisu series’ of solar tile is a beautiful looking product – these images don’t do it justice. This product has been floating around at solar conferences for a while, so it’s not a new thing. The singles are 30 watts each and use standard MC4s to connect. The shingles are noted as ‘being applied’ for UL and other certifications – meaning the product isn’t available yet.

Hanergy made headlines a few years back for acquiring some of the most promising copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film makers, and these tiles represent some of that IP finally making it to market in the West.

Floating solar panels have become a thing in only the past year or two, and now there are already hundreds of megawatts of projects around the world under development. This product is made by Ciel & Terre. The second snow covered image is definitely not from the floor of the show – it’s a shot of the product being tested on a lake in the Massachusetts winter.

Solaria recently released an upgraded version of their beautiful solar panels – the  PowerXT®-430C-PD (PDF). The solar panel is now 430 W in the 72 cell- equivalent, commercial offering. The 430 W version gets all the way up to 19.8% efficiency, and is available now. Note in the close-up image that you can’t see individual solar cells (they’re shingles), and that the shingles cover a very high percentage the solar panel’s surface. That high level of front side coverage is part of the Solaria secret sauce – more silicon facing the sun means more electricity being generated.

And last but definitely not least, but definitely something that makes you go ‘hmmm’ – solar cells directly attached to the metal carport structure. pv magazine wonders about how productive this product could be, with heat dissipation the first of worries, but it is an interesting idea.

A lot of product being shown off, and a lot of variety. We will bring you more reports from the Intersolar show floor tomorrow on racking, inverters on Monday and extra items on Tuesday.