Learning From the Best: Presentations from 2017 Intersolar AWARD Finalists

Each year, Intersolar AWARD finalists present key benefits of their latest technologies at the Innovation & Application Stage at Intersolar North America. This year’s presentations were some of the best—a diverse group of innovators who are commercializing everything from solar tracking technologies to smart inverters took the stage to share the most recent technology updates from across the solar industry.

Dr. Mark Preston of solar tracking company Array Technologies kicked off the Intersolar AWARD finalist presentations with a discussion surrounding the importance of reliability in the design of utility-scale solar assets."You are taking an enormous risk if you install a tracker that is not stable," Preston said. "A lot of the newer technologies have had severe issues with wind." Array's DuraTrack HZ v3 use very few parts and a unique, flexibly linked architecture to minimize maintenance and maintain strong performance in the face of terrain challenges and extreme weather events.

SolarEdge continued the discussion of reliability through the lens of the residential user. Lior Handelsman, VP Marketing & Product Strategy, explained how usage patterns for residential solar do not align with power production of rooftop systems, an issue that can lead to an unstable grid as the residential solar market expands. "For solar systems to grow and evolve, they need to be more balanced with the grid," Handelsman said. Through SolarEdge's latest power optimizer and string inverter technologies, homeowners can manage their PV system production, manage their battery system and control devices around the home to build energy reliability at the home level.

While efficiency and reliability are certainly keystones of solar technology development, sometimes the unexpected factors like the visual look of a PV module can attract residential and commercial customers. Dru Sutton, general manager at Solaria Corp, shared how Solaria's PowerXT solar modules have become an industry-leading clean energy solution. "Wherever you see white on a solar module—that's an area where no power is being generated," Sutton said. Solaria wastes no space on their panels by overlaying traditional cells and increasing the amount of silicon area per module. This leads to a win-win for the end user. Efficiency is increased, fewer modules are needed on a rooftop and the crisp, black aesthetic of the module is an attractive alternative to traditional PV systems.

Finally, Eva Pauly-Bowles, sales director at Ciel & Terre International, shared the benefits of a rarely discussed yet burgeoning area of PV development, floating PV technologies. Pauly-Bowles outlined the unique benefits of floating PV systems and economic development they enable by not consuming existing land resources. She commented another key differentiator of Ciel & Terre's technology is that it "is completely flexible—every panel is independent and can handle the ripple effect." The company is also using anchors to safely secure PV arrays in more challenging environments across the U.S. and around the world.