What’s hot at Clean Energy Week 2013: updated

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Solar companies compete for attention, showing off new products, projects, and vintage Olympians. Plus a new name and mandate for the PV industry body.

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Clean Energy Week – the premier event on the Australian renewables calendar – kicked off in Brisbane on Wednesday, featuring a whole lot of solar companies competing for attention in the crowded halls of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Below is a rolling summary of some of the hot new products being unveiled, as well as the announcements being made by clean energy companies showing off their wares. Dawn Fraser will be there too! Look for updates as the week rolls on…

Q CELLS, a subsidiary of South Korean solar PV manufacturer Hanwha – the world’s third largest PV maker, and the major sponsor of this year’s Clean Energy Week – will use the event in Brisbane this week to unveil its new G3 solar modules: the Q.PEAK-G3 and Q.PRO-G3. The modules use “optimised low-light behaviour” and anti-reflection technology to achieve a range of 97-98 per cent output in low-light conditions. At an individual cell level, they can achieve 19.5 per cent efficiency – a confirmed world record for silicon PV.

The company notes the G3 range of panels are well-equipped for Australia’s windy, coastal areas – having proven tough enough to survive cyclones Larry and Yassi – and were a performance leader at the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre, which tests panels under the extreme conditions of Australia’s outback, with up to 10.8 per cent higher output than other modules installed at the Centre.

But wait, there’s more! Just in case this impressive new solar power technology is not enough to attract attention at the event, the company will also be tapping star power, with Australian Olympic Champion Dawn Fraser set to visit the Q CELLS stand twice during the week – to pose for photos and “highlight the importance of all Australians doing their bit for solar.” Oliver Hartley, Hanwha Q CELLS Australia Managing Director, will present on solar market developments on Thursday morning.

Not to be outdone, Suntech Power Holdings will launch two new products during Clean Energy Week: its Solar Analytics monitoring system and its Alternating Current (AC) Fusion module. The company says both products are geared toward residential and commercial consumers and will be on display at Suntech’s booth from 24-26 July.

The Solar Analytics monitoring system – which was co-developed by Suntech R&D Australia and Envais Solar with the support of the CRC for Low Carbon Living – monitors the power output of a solar system, alongside local weather conditions, and provides direct feedback on system performance to customers.

The Fusion Smart AC module uses a microinverter from industry leader Enphase Energy, and can increase system output by up to 16 per cent through optimisation of each AC module individually. The module also provides system monitoring that captures the performance and helps maximise lifetime energy production.

Solar business solutions company Schneider Electric will also be showing off its wares at CEW, and basking in the glow of two recent major project wins in Thailand and France. In Thailand,the company – which was recently voted one of the Top Three Most Competitively Positioned PV Inverter Companies by GTM Research – was selected by Soleq Pte Ltd to work on five PV power plants amounting to 48MW. In France, Schneider Electric provided the electrical Balance of System for 85MW of solar power plants in 10 different regions across the country.

New solar products, new solar projects, and now a new solar industry body has been launched at Clean Energy Week in Brisbane. The establishment of the Australian PV Insititute (APVI) was officially announced on Thursday by the Australian PV Association (APVA) – a change of name meant to reflect the “growing maturity” of Australia’s PV sector, while continuing in the tradition of APVA’s  “apolitical” support of PV growth and development through targeted research, analysis, information sharing and collaborative research.

Muriel Watt, Chair of the APVI (and formerly of APVA), noted that PV industry, policy and research were moving forward rapidly, “and we feel that we need a different organisational structure and operating mode to accommodate this change.” The newly established Institute says one of its main focuses will be to provide a bridge between the PV sector and the established electricity sector. APVI will also be established as a Company Limited by Guarantee with representative membership from academia, industry and various levels of the Public Sector.

Also on Thursday, SolarEdge Technologies has announced a new partnership with Australian renewables distributor RFI Solar, a move aimed at meeting the increasing market demand for SolarEdge power optimisers. “Demand for module-level electronics is steadily increasing due to the opportunities they entail for solar installers in Australia,” said Scott Magee, managing director at RFI Solar.

SolarEdge’s systems consist of specialised DC/AC inverters and power optimisers, which can increase the modules’ energy output by up to 25 per cent. Power optimisers also improve safety by automatically dropping the string voltage to a safe voltage level if the inverter is off, while module-level monitoring allows installers to check how the modules are performing and optimise system maintenance.

Solar energy technology might be dominating on the ground at Clean Energy Week, but geothermal is up in lights, with ASX-listed Geodynamics Limited winning the Clean Energy Council Innovation Award at Wednesday night’s CEC Clean Energy Week Gala Event. The award recognises the leading edge technology developed and deployed in producing Australia’s first Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) power with the commissioning of the 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant. Well done.

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