India at Intersolar Europe 2011

Even before the doors opened to Intersolar Europe 2011 on June 8 the industry was abuzz with talk that India, spurred on by China’s progress, would be significantly ramping up its position in the solar photovoltaic (PV) market.

By 2022 the country intends to install a total PV capacity of 20 gigawatts and 20 million square metres of collector area. These targets form part of India’s National Solar Mission (NSM), so experts are expecting large growth in PV and solar thermal technology from the country. By significantly developing solar technology, India hopes to gain an improved and more secure energy supply.

Fortunately, India lies in a very sunny region of the world. Most areas of India receive between 250 and 300 sunny days each year. Receiving about 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kilowatt hours (KWh), India has abundant solar resources. It can easily use this solar power as an energy source but it has lagged behind other natural sources like wind, small hydropower and biomass.

Intersolar Europe, which was just held in Munich, Germany from June 6 to 8, offers countries like India the product innovations and international expertise needed to harness significant solar potential.

The event brought together key players in the solar industry to share experiences and hold face-to-face discussions about product innovations and the international solar market. The European event is one of four international shows for Intersolar, which also includes Intersolar North America in San Francisco, Intersolar China in Beijing, and the most recently launched Intersolar India in Mumbai.

Celebrating this partnership, India’s Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah inaugurated June’s event at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Minister Abdullah noted the international cooperation of the development of renewable energy in India and worldwide, which is an appropriate symbol of the international exhibition.

And from the opening day of the event, which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, it was apparent there was a large Indian presence at the show.

Companies representing India were said to be visiting the show to find automation partners with rumours abounding that the country will soon turn to the gigawatt market.

The trade show boasts exhibitions and events for everyone in the solar industry. The PV World Special Exhibition presented the technological developments necessary to increase the share of solar electricity in the grid, the Jobs and Career Forum aimed to launch careers in the solar industry, the Innovation Exchange was a place to discover the latest product developments, and the Intersolar Award ceremony paid tribute to the best products and services in the industry.

Intersolar Europe 2011 was the biggest one yet, with 2,200 exhibitors from all corners of the globe (the organizers estimate that 57 per cent of exhibitors traveled from abroad for the event) showcasing their products and services across 15 halls, three more than last year.

“Intersolar Europe’s continued growth highlights the public recognition of solar technology as a renewable alternative to other energy sources,” said Markus Elsasser, CEO of Solar Promotion GmbH, Pforzheim. “The industry is growing, not just in Germany, but the world over. We are pleased to be able to actively support this positive growth with our event.”

More than 20 Indian companies showcased at the event, including Banbury Solar, Jaihind Green Energy and Vikram Solar GmbH. The Indian solar market is considered the next international solar hub, which is why the event organizers launched the latest show in India.

Intersolar India, which will be help at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai from December 14 to 16, will provide information on technological prospects in the markets while the accompanying conference on December 13 to 14 December will uncover the challenges ahead for the industry.

The latest Intersolar franchise has already grown into a definite success with 250 exhibitors lined up for 2011, more than 100 plus from the 143 exhibitors in 2010. Visitor numbers increased by 83 per cent in to 5,863 in 2010 as well, and the event attracted experts from more than 55 different countries.

Last year’s conference programme at the Hotel Leela Kempinski in Mumbai was equally impressive. Here, 70 presentations furnished 700 participants with information on sales developments, industry trends and technological research in both the Indian and global solar markets. This year the exhibition space has grown to 20,000 square feet and more than 6,000 visitors are expected.

The event will be an ideal platform for the Indian government’s plans to significantly develop solar technology. In 2009 India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) was announced following rumours and draft reports. It was approved just in time for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit with U.S. President  Barack Obama. Greenpeace has estimated that the NSM, part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 per cent to 18 per cent with annual reductions of 434 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) through 2050, provided that the solar power actually displaced fossil fuel-generated electricity.

The 30-year scheme that is being funded by a $19 billion government investment will come in three phases, starting with one to 1.5 gigawatt of solar being installed by 2012, in addition to steps to reduce the cost of manufacturing solar panels. Furthermore, the NSM will make the use of solar-powered equipment mandatory in hospitals, hotels and government buildings. Some three million households will get solar-powered lighting, made possible through micro-finance loans.

This is why India’s presence at the global Intersolar events, including its own franchise of the show, is so important. The Indian government has categorically shown that it is acting on climate change and moving away from a carbon-intensive scenario. With India taking such significant steps, pressure is now on the developed countries to commit as well, putting their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets on an international scale.

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