SOLON’s founders demonstrated extraordinary foresight back in 1998 by deciding to float a company dedicated to solar power on the stock market. This proved to be a smart move, as SOLON has since become one of the most innovative and reliable companies in the entire sector thanks to its focus on solar modules and technology ranging from roof systems to full-scale power plants. With its subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, France and the U.S.A., SOLON is now a truly global service provider in the field of solar power.
Reported by Jeanny H. Lim
What do you see as the trends and market forces driving PV technology in the second half of 2011?
There is certainly a strong trend away from greenfield projects as FiT for such projects have been severely cut all over Europe. So, ground-mounted solutions are on the decrease in the main solar markets.
In contrast, we see a strong shift towards the market segment of industrial rooftop projects, as especially the new Italian solar legislation, the Conto Energia IV, is strongly favoring those solutions.
SOLON is very well positioned for this change, as we recently introduced several leight-weight, easy-to-install products for industrial roofs with low loading capacities, e.g., those made of metal, bituminous or plastic sheeting materials.
Another market force that will be driving PV technology in the future is the demand for any kind of storage solution for solar energy. SOLON is reacting to this trend and is working on a storage solution to be introduced at the beginning of 2012. With this product, residential homes are to become up to 70% energy autonomous.
How are PV prices expected to develop in the second half?
We see falling prices for important PV materials, i.e., solar cells. This will effect the overall prices, of course. Furthermore, worldwide production capacities are still rising in different segments of the solar value chain while, at the same time, feed-in tariffs in different countries are decreasing. This overall market situation will lead to another decrease in module prices, a challenge for all market participants.
On the other hand, this means that we can reach grid parity in the residencial home segment in Germany as soon as 2012. Thus, the role of solar energy will change--from being an attractive investment opportunity, PV will become a widespread means of generating your own energy.
Where do you put your focus this year, in terms of business growth and technology development?
Superior solar solutions is what SOLON stands for. Our aim in the next months is to increase our market share in the premium segment of photovoltaic modules and system solutions, especially in our core markets Germany and Italy.
In the sense of technology development, we follow our motto ‘we can do any roof’, providing solar systems for all kind of roofs, like lately the SOLON SOLraise which substantially increases yields, in particular, on partially shaded roofs, that were not suitable for photovoltaics in the past. Furthermore, we are developing products with additional benefits for our customers, like the SOLON SOLitaire, an in-roof PV solution that covers your roof and provides energy at the same time. In the segment of commercial and industrial rooftops, we, therefore, offer solutions that are specially designed for lightweight roofs. SOLON SOLfixx is an all-in-one solution for flat bitumen or plastic roofing strips roofs with a low load-carrying capacity. As part of this system, the solar modules are clicked into a substructure made of plastic--no tools required. Penetrating the roof is not necessary as well. At the same time, 70% of the load is being distributed evenly over the surface. For metal roofs, we introduced SOLON SOLbond to the market. Without using a substructure, the fitter can glue it directly onto the roofing membrane. The system is extremely light and weighs just 8.5 kg/sqm. In general, we see a clear trend away from standard modules to more sophisticated solutions for special needs.
Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to email@example.com.
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