SNEC Diary- Solar Shines Bright

Highlights :

  • The SNEC PV Power show lived up to its billing as the world’s number one solar show, with over 2600 exhibitors this year.
  • The India presence was significant, even if not the same priority for Chinese firms, which see better margins in Europe and other markets for now, and an easier business environment to navigate.
SNEC Diary- Solar Shines Bright

At SNEC PV Power Expo 2023 in Shanghai, the show remained about the tremendous China story in the sector, with over 95% of 2,700 odd exhibitors from that country. This year, total indoor and outdoor halls were increased to 34, covering a total exhibition area of 270,000 square meters. Over 2,00,000 visitors made the trip finally. Increasingly, this is one sector where China will leave the most lasting impact. 

From the early days of technology transfers from the West before scaling up, Chinese firms in both solar and energy storage particularly are today leading in innovations, increasingly deciding the future technologies that will rule, and less and less susceptible to any breakthrough ‘disruption’ elsewhere that could upset China’s dominance.

Solar Goes Mainstream

At the very outset, one has to say that for those missing the ‘excitement’ and marketing razzmatazz of the pre-pandemic years, this year’s show was simply an acknowledgment of the fact that Solar has gone mainstream. No one has to evangelize the benefits or its cost-effectiveness now, as study after study demonstrates that Solar is the cheapest energy source in more and more regions around the world. 

As a consequence, we saw a level of maturity and more deal-focused approach this year, with the biggest players building stalls that were meant more to enable conversations with prospects than demonstrate products. While established leaders like Longi had the usual heavy presence, it was the splashy spread of stalls from inverter major Solis that was eye-catching, indicating the superb run the firm has enjoyed globally in recent years.

Of course, with thousands streaming in every day, there were fun and games for the visitors too, but the overwhelming focus clearly was on seeking serious conversations with prospects who knew what they needed.

New Categories Beckon

We were impressed with the progress in the quality of BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) options, besides solar roof tiles, both segments with virtually zero presence in India yet. “Balcony Solar’ which usually consists of two high output solar modules that can be fixed in front of apartment balconies along with a microinverter, was also visible. These make it possible for even apartment owners who don’t have a roof to get a solar installation for their basic needs, and it sounds like an idea that has wings and has apparently received a solid reception in Europe.

Speaking of which, Europe was clearly on every major firm’s mind, particularly where they sought to make the best of a tight supply situation in segments like inverters. For the Chinese majors, who are also the global majors in this case, manufacturing, both at home and in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and even Australia, was on the agenda, especially among integrated module makers like Longi, Jinko and more.

Energy storage was another area where one noticed a clear drop in prices, indicating some very exciting times ahead in India, too, starting perhaps with the C&I segment and broader B2B purchases first.

Finally, off-grid solar and its possibilities marked a strong presence, buoyed by demand, led by a drop in costs for both solar and storage, making it a lot more dependable.

India Stands Out, Despite…

The Indian presence, easily the largest ‘foreign contingent,’ was marked by the presence of Indian executives at Chinese and other firms who have grown to handle larger responsibilities and markets, following the footsteps of their illustrious brethren in other sectors like IT and finance. For industry executives from India, the focus this year was on picking up manufacturing connects as solar manufacturing spreads in India, some potential deals where cell and module supplies are dependable, and of course, learning about the next big shifts in the industry. 

Be it n-type modules or the push towards TOPCON technology, many of the Indian manufacturers who currently source cells and other raw materials from China had much to learn and prepare for. This reminds us of the sad fact that the Indian presence and interest can hardly be reciprocated by their Chinese counterparts, as the Indian authorities have preferred to go slow on visa issuances for Chinese nationals. This lack of reciprocity has certainly worked as yet another non-tariff barrier after ALMM and the BIS certification requirements, keeping many new and emerging Chinese firms away from any immediate plans for India.


The SNEC PV Power 2023 show certainly lived up to its billing as the largest show of its kind worldwide. So much so that we don’t consider it possible for a single visitor to be able to do justice to all exhibitors over the three-day period it runs. With the energy sector moving more and more towards handling the higher share of solar in the grid, there might be a case for seeing more and more wind players joining in, as Mingyang, the second largest wind player from China, did this year. In addition, energy storage technologies and options will probably see a further increase in presence and stature.

"Want to be featured here or have news to share? Write to info[at]

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International