Does solar produce the most tasteless exhibitor stands in the world?
Author: David Thomas
Published: Thursday, 25 October 2012
Another solar event was held in Birmingham’s NEC recently. Over 60 of the world’s leading solar module providers gathered for one of the UK’s largest solar PV trade events. Some exhibitors stood out more than others for one reason or another. If you’ve never been to a solar panel conference before, here is what you’re missing:
Solar Power UK
There was a noteworthy cast of exhibitors and speakers at Solar Power UK. Exhibitors were mostly solar panel manufacturers and installers but there were other specialist companies in attendance: special mops for cleaning PV panels, and Energeno who makes clever energy monitoring gizmos.
Speakers were of a high standard: the line-up included Dave Allport, who is the most compelling force behind the Green Deal, in my opinion. I’ve heard Greg Barker speak of the Green Deal but he’s not a patch on Dave.
If you're interested you can read about Green Deal talks at GreenDeal.co.uk, but actually this article is less about the high standard of companies and speakers at the event and more about the strange design of some exhibitors’ stands.
After reading this you’ll either book your ticket to your next local solar conference immediately or you’ll want to go and take a lie down in a dark room.
I have picked four of the conferences least classy exhibitor stands as examples. All are successful companies with outstanding reputations in the solar industry, but their exhibition stands at the event did not sit right with me.
1. British Photovoltaic Association
The BPVA is known for providing excellent market research and opportunities for its members. It conducted the first ever market assessment earlier this year, for example. In the picture below you can see its trademark exhibiting style: an ultra-hygienic dental surgery full of air stewardesses and exotic fruit. Business is conducted on little plastic bar stools.
Tasteless Rating: 1.5/5 - Strange but relatively classy compared to the others on the list. And it’s always popular with conference visitors.
2. Zenex Solar
One of the UK’s leading solar wholesalers, Zenex is popular for supplying modules at affordable prices. It’s also renowned for its pink and black exhibition stand that looks like a mobile pole-dancing club.
Tasteless Rating: ⅗ - Pretty horrible - although someone told me he thought it looked ‘jazzy’ - but it’s still small fry compared to the next two.
3. Trina Solar
Trina is an enormous global solar panel manufacturer that sponsors the Lotus F1 team. Its ‘Honey’ panel is the most efficient solar panel on the market, according to research released earlier this year.
At the time of the conference the Trina team was just starting its big European tour aboard a gigantic truck that unfolded to reveal a F1 video game arcade, a solar panel exhibition area and a cafe. It was more like something from a monster truck rally than a renewable energy conference.
Tasteless Rating: ⅘ - Impressive? More like terrifying. Appropriate? No.
4. REW Solar
REW is a German company that produces its solar panels and modules in high efficiency production lines in Switzerland. REW operates all over Europe and rightly prides itself on the quality of its products.
Now it can pride itself on having the most outstandingly crass stand at Solar Power UK that’s weird, misogynistic, and nothing to do with solar power. This happens too often in the green energy industries.
Tasteless Rating: 10/5 – Women in scanty lederhosen? Now is that really the kind of image of your business you want to give?
A question of taste
Well, this is just my opinion: if you disagree with my ratings and think the BPVA stand was more tasteless than the Trina Truck, or just think these stands have been designed in superb taste please leave a comment below. I don’t think there’s enough discussion about how strange these stands are.
Journalists go to a lot of niche events. For me these are often solar conferences. You might expect the emphasis at these gigs to be on sustainability but in my experience it’s usually not.
Solar is a male-dominated construction industry, so you can count on quite a few of the exhibitors’ stands being more about speed, volume, free alcohol and females in silly outfits than about harvesting clean energy from the sun. For me this is a pity.