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PHOTOS: Next-gen solar tech at Intersolar

Written on:July 13, 2011
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Wander for a few minutes around the trade show floors at Intersolar, one of the largest solar conferences in the U.S., being held in San Francisco at Moscone Center this week, and it’s easy to get a little bored. The rooms are full of racking systems, inverters, silicon materials, and more than anything else, lots of solar panels that all look alike.

But spend a bit more time talking to the company execs and comparing the products, and it becomes clear: that’s kind of the point. The solar industry is working hard on reducing costs and that means turning to pretty boring stuff like precision manufacturing, new semiconductor material combinations, and even easier-to-use screws for mounting systems (OK, not boring if you’re an engineer).

But despite that these industrial and manufacturing technologies are dominating solar innovation, there were still some eye-catching next-gen solar technologies on display at the event, and I snapped these 25 pics to share ‘em with y’alls:

var galleryData = [{“title”:”Loving solar a little too much”,”caption”:”A huge poster on the trade show floor. OK we get it.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar20.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar robots”,”caption”:”REIS provides a lot of robots for the solar industry.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar2.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar robots”,”caption”:”Solar manufacturing, like lots of manufacturing, use robots to put pieces precisely into place. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar33.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar panel cleaner”,”caption”:”Solar panels get dirty and companies are building new technologies to automate the cleaning process.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar34.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solyndra”,”caption”:”Solyndra, and its tube-shaped solar panels, had not 1 but 2 booths at Intersolar.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar37.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar log”,”caption”:”Screens enable home owners, businesses, and installers to review how their solar panels are performing.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar36.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar as remote power”,”caption”:”This lab uses a solar panel to power a monitoring device in a remote region.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar35.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar panel mounting system”,”caption”:”Companies are designing new ways to mount solar panels into place on rooftops.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar39.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar tracking system”,”caption”:”Many ground-mounted utility-scale solar systems use trackers to follow the sun throughout the day. The more simple, the fewer the moving parts, the better when it comes to trackers.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar40.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar tracking system”,”caption”:”Many ground-mounted utility scale solar systems use trackers to follow the sun. The more simple, the less moving parts, the better, when it comes to trackers.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar38.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar keg”,”caption”:”The largest crowd I saw was around a keg in a solar booth.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar32.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar iPod apps”,”caption”:”Solar installers use iPod apps to keep track of certain aspects of the solar system. This one’s from Unirac. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar31.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”SolFocus”,”caption”:”Concentrating solar photovoltaic tech combines concentrators and tiny solar cells. This one’s made by SolFocus.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar30.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar pool heating system”,”caption”:”Using the sun to heat your pool seems like a bright idea.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar24.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar thermal”,”caption”:”A mini model of a large utility-scale solar thermal concentrating system.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar23.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”SolarOr”,”caption”:”An Israeli company called SolarOr has built a building-integrated solar module.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar22.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Amonix “,”caption”:”Solar concentrating photovoltaic systems represented at Intersolar. This one is a mini mockup of an Amonix system.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar19.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”More solar tubes”,”caption”:”This time from Solar Collector Inc, for a system that heats a pool. I wonder how much of Solyndra’s patents are around the tube itself.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar17.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”More solar tubes”,”caption”:”These solar tubes come from MICOE, and makes me wonder how much of Solyndra’s patents are around the solar tube itself. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar14.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”More solar tubes”,”caption”:”More solar tubes, this time from Sangle Solar. Makes me wonder how much of Solyndra’s patents are around solar tubes. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar13.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar materials”,”caption”:”Different materials can add the absorption and reflection of the solar panels. These materials are from Alanod Solar. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar15.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar power tower”,”caption”:”Here’s a mini mock up of solar power tech from a company called Ray Power. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar11.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Solar trough tech”,”caption”:”Another mini mockup from Ray Power, this time of a utility scale solar farm built with trough designs. “,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar9.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”It’s an American right to have solar”,”caption”:”Suntech, a Chinese solar maker, was touting its American made solar panels.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar7.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}, {“title”:”Suntech’s new tech”,”caption”:”Some of the bigger news at Intersolar was 2 new products from Suntech. This is one of them, a high-efficiency \”SuperPoly\” module. The other uses Suntech’s Pluto cell.”,”thumbnail”:”http:\/\/gigaom2.files.wordpress.com\/2011\/07\/intersolar6.jpg?w=48&h=48&crop=1″}];

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