SPI 2011 was well attended by more than 21,000 professionals in the solar industry from all over the world and across the value chain, including installers, developers, financiers, utilities, OEM's and distributors.
"The feedback that we received from customers, Business Alliance Partners and suppliers has been overwhelmingly positive over the past few days," said Michael E. Schostak, Director of Business Development & Communications for Energy Conversion Devices, United Solar's parent company. "We feel especially gratified at the traffic through the booth and the welcome responses we received as we provided current and potential customers tours through the booth and shared with them the passion that the UNI-SOLAR team has for its new products and programs."
The Open Solar section of the booth demonstrated the main focus of the initiative: to inspire third-party innovators in the development and commercialization of products based on United Solar's unique technology, the lightweight, flexible UNI-SOLAR cell. The Open Solar display highlighted further integration of UNI-SOLAR technology into many types of roofing materials as an enabler of a better quality, lower cost BIPV products. Additional examples included consumer products, from portable battery chargers to briefcases and messenger bags with solar charging capabilities and even a solar-powered music speaker.
"We have been very impressed with the flow of innovative ideas we hear from potential Open Solar partners," said Chris Bala, Vice President of Sales and Open Solar program lead for United Solar. "From individual entrepreneurs with novel product ideas to senior executives from large global entities, the excitement for our new Open Solar initiative has exceeded our expectations, and we are increasingly optimistic that the Open Solar initiative represents substantial incremental business for UNI-SOLAR. " For more information on Open Solar, visit http://www.OpenSolar.com.
The conference also provided an ideal opportunity for United Solar to showcase its newest commercial product, the UNI-SOLAR PowerBondTM enhanced photovoltaic laminate (ePVL™ ). The ePVL maintains the basic polymer encapsulated design of the classic UNI-SOLAR laminate but with enhancements that improve installability and reliability. The advantages of ePVL are a higher return on investment through increased power density, reduced labor installation costs due to an integrated strain relief and latching connectors, and improved durability of the product from new angled corners and weather-proof edge-wrapping.
The SPI tradeshow also represented an opportunity for the United Solar sales team to engage with their new Americas Business Alliance Partners. Since launching this targeted sales strategy earlier this year, United Solar has signed up almost 30 new BAP's into the program. Benefits to partners in the program include competitive, direct pricing, pre-sales project design assistance, installation and quality control training and certification, and access to financing partners.
"I am very pleased at the success we have had growing our North American BAP program," said Steve Szamocki, Senior Vice President of Americas Sales at United Solar. "The excellent partners that we have will help us drive megawatts of volume in the rapidly growing North American market." For more information on UNI-SOLAR commercial products and services visit http://www.uni-solar.com/contact-us/.
SPI 2011 also provided an important opportunity for the United Solar Product Development team to meet with customers and suppliers and gather meaningful market intelligence and feedback about new product design ideas and concepts.
One important product making its appearance at SPI is the improved PowerShingleTM. UNI-SOLAR's extremely lightweight and very flexible laminates allowed its engineers the ability to integrate solar into laminates that are designed to look like asphalt shingles. The PowerShingle product features laminates that are glass-free and encapsulated in UV-stabilized, weather-resistant polymers that hold up against Category 3 hurricane winds, hail and other heavy impacts – while continuing to provide excellent performance and protection for the inside of the home. The improved product increases the ease of installation, as it attaches to the roof just like standard asphalt shingles, the panels snap together with new proprietary lie-flat connectors, and the wiring can be run with or without penetrating the roof deck. The product replaces the need for heavy, bulky and unattractive frames on the residential roof with a design that fits the visually-aesthetic needs of homeowners, drastically improving the marketplace outlook for what is anticipated to be a wider scale acceptance of solar on residential roofs.
"We are excited about many of the new products and concepts our group is working on," said Frank Homann, Senior Vice President of Product Development & Systems Engineering at United Solar. "But perhaps we are most enthusiastic about the improved PowerShingle residential product. We are currently ready to get Class-A fire rated by UL, which is an important differentiating factor about our product. Once this certification is received, we will be prepared to go to market in sync with what we expect will be a resurging home improvement and construction market. We are currently signing up distribution partners to help us get this outstanding product onto as many homes as possible."
About United Solar/UNI-SOLAR®
United Solar has been a global leader in building-integrated and rooftop photovoltaics for over 25 years. The company manufactures, sells and installs thin-film solar laminates that convert sunlight to clean, renewable energy using proprietary technology for which the company has been awarded over 70 U.S. patents. UNI-SOLAR® brand products are unique because of their flexibility, light weight, ease of installation, durability, and real-world energy production. The company also designs, manufactures and installs rooftop photovoltaic systems, which enable customers to transform unused rooftop space into a value-generating asset. With the Open Solar™ initiative the company is seeking to build a community of solar innovators who will commercialize new products using the underlying, patented UNI-SOLAR technology. For more information on United Solar visit www.uni-solar.com or follow UNI-SOLAR on Facebook.com/unisolar and Twitter.com/uni_solar.
About Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.
Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) (Nasdaq:ENER) has a renowned 51 year history since its formation in Detroit, Michigan and has been a pioneer in materials science and renewable energy technology development. The company has been awarded over 500 U.S. patents and international counterparts for its achievements. Besides the United Solar business which represents about 90% of ECD's sales and assets, ECD's technology portfolio also includes the Ovonic Battery Company, the inventor and worldwide licensor of nickel-metal-hydride battery technology and the developer of proprietary advanced lithium-ion cathode materials, along with other emerging energy storage technologies. ECD's Ovonyx joint venture is the inventor and worldwide licensor of phase change memory (PCM) technology. For more information, please visit ECD on the web at energyconversiondevices.com and on Facebook, and follow ECD on Twitter @ECD_ENER.
This release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning our plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events, future net sales or performance, capital expenditures, financing needs, restructuring, plans or intentions relating to expansions, business trends and other information that is not historical information. All forward-looking statements are based upon information available to us on the date of this release and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside of our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements. Risks that could cause such results to differ include: our ability to maintain our customer relationships and establish new relationships; the worldwide market for solar energy systems; changes to government incentives related to solar energy; our customers' ability to access capital to finance the purchase of our products; our ability to achieve expense reductions and levels of one-time costs, including restructuring charges; our ability to meet all the terms and conditions of our debt obligations; and our ability through technology improvements to reduce cost and improve the conversion efficiency of our solar products. The risk factors identified in the ECD filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, could impact any forward-looking statements contained in this release. Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. assumes no responsibility to update any forward-looking statements contained herein.
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