The winners of the annual pv magazine awards have been honored at the first major event on the solar trade show circuit in 2020. Eight winners across seven categories were named last night at the World Future Energy Summit, which is under way in Abu Dhabi.
The sustainability award are a new feature of the awards in 2019. Part of pv magazine’s UP initiative, the prize recognizes products, practices and programs which focus on promoting an environmentally friendly industry, from energy usage to the use of non-toxic materials and end-of-life programs.
New editorial agenda
pv magazine launched the UP campaign in May to effect truly sustainable action in the solar and energy storage industries. To date, we have held our first quarterly topic looking at the use of lead in c-Si modules, staged a webinar with initiative partner SMA on the subject of greenwashing vs. verifiable sustainability; conducted a sustainability survey; unveiled our sustainability champions for 2019; and placed a spotlight on a host of other sustainability issues, from biodiversity to air travel. This quarter, we will focus on raw material sourcing in batteries.
Two winners claimed this year’s sustainability award, with representatives from First Solar and SunPower at the ceremony. SunPower’s Maxeon module was recognized for being lead-free and the first to achieve the Cradle-to-Cradle certification related to circular economy design and manufacture. The First Solar Series 6 module was also a winner, on the basis of the company’s recycling programs and the products’ energy-efficient manufacture.
“For us, sustainability goes hand in hand with product innovation,” said Mario Riello, SunPower’s managing director in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for solar solutions and global project development. “It’s interesting that the most efficient and the most reliable partners are also the most sustainable. And we want to continue to be a part of that leadership and hope the rest of the industry will follow.”
Chinese manufacturer GoodWe won the highly competitive inverter award for its A-ES Series hybrid product. The inverter was recognized by the 16-strong independent jury as offering solar clients wide flexibility and future-proofing – including for integration of battery storage at a later date.
“GoodWe will have its tenth birthday this year and [in] the last few years, the company put a lot of effort into not just providing inverters but additional benefits, in terms of quality and reliability and also a lot of focus on innovation,” said Thomas Haering, MD of GoodWe Europe. “It is very nice to see that this is recognized by the industry.
“The nice thing about the [A-ES Series] hybrid is that you can see three business models with this product: A customer buys both PV and a battery together, or they might buy an inverter and later on upgrade with storage, or [in other markets] the UPS [uninterruptible power supply] functionality is important.”
Shoals received the (non-inverter) balance-of-system award for its Big Lead Assembly (BLA), which was deployed in more than 9 GW of solar projects in 2019 alone. Shoals founder Dean Solon provided a statement noting the company’s 15 years of providing solutions beyond modules and inverters.
“We are truly humbled by the fact that the industry has always turned to us to bring about so many new and cutting-edge innovations that have indeed transformed the solar industry,” said Solon. “We have been diligent in re-inventing simple, from the back of the glass to the inverter. The BLA has been an overnight success. But this success took nearly a decade to design, prototype, test, re-test and bring into production.”
Huawei won the publisher’s award and pv magazine publisher Eckhart Gouras handed out the prize. Although the SUN2000-185KTL string inverter was cited in the award category, Gouras noted the prize recognized the wider contribution made by the company to reducing solar’s levelized cost of energy and driving technological innovation in the industry.
“Taking this holistic view, Huawei stands out as a trailblazer in making string inverters not only the product of choice for rooftop installations but also for utility scale power plants,” said Gouras.
The winners were selected from 121 entries from 25 countries.
Entries for the 2020 prizes will be accepted in four “award windows” throughout the year. Keep an eye on pv magazine for details on how to apply.