Italy’s KEY trade show now Europe’s second-largest PV event

Italy’s most important event for renewable energy took place last week in Rimini with a 41% increase in visitors and about 30% growth in the number of participating brands. This reflects the sustained growth of the Italian PV sector and also underscores the expansion of the trade show, which is now Europe’s second-largest PV event after Germany’s SmarterE – Intersolar.

From pv magazine Italy

The Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) has revealed that the numbers of its KEY – The Energy Transition Expo trade show, which was held last week in Rimini, Italy – has exceeded all expectations. The event concluded with a 41% increase in total attendance from 2023, with the international presence growing by 60% – solidifying the event’s status as an internationally recognized trade fair.

All major producers of PV modules and inverters, both Italian and international, showcased their stands in seven pavilions at the show. The event spanned 65,000 m2 and featured a 30% increase in exhibiting brands, totaling 830 companies, with 35% from abroad. It covered 16 pavilions, four more than in 2023, and hosted 120 conferences in the Expo Center pavilions.

The large number of Asian exhibitors underscored the event’s significance as a leading trade fair for Italian and European photovoltaics, ranking second in Europe after Intersolar in Munich, Germany.

During the three-day KEY event, pv magazine Italy gathered feedback from exhibitors and visitors. The recurring theme focused on the growing interest in products aimed at the commercial and industrial (C&I) segment.

“I spoke continuously for three days and found a lot of interest in energy communities. A few days ago the operating rules of the Italian energy agency Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE) were published, with some points that were not very transparent and understandable, but the GSE itself organized in-depth sessions during the fair and we now hope to have all the answers,” said Valerio Natalizia, CEO of SMA Italy, the Italian unit of German inverter manufacturer SMA. “We have noticed a lot of attention on storage, especially for commercial and industrial roofs and an increased interest in the utility scale. This fair is the litmus test that everything is going in the right direction and we are also confident in the interventions of an industrial incentive policy to protect European producers.”

Fabio Ottavi – general manager of Sonnen Italia, the Italian subsidiary of German battery manufacturer Sonnen – said that the trade fair went well.

“I consider this market response surprising, now in the process of adjusting after the end of the Superbonus. It is therefore officially a moment of relaunch, not so obvious,” he told pv magazine Italy. “I’ll draw a parallel: when the incentive scheme Conto Energia ended, the sector fair, SolarExpo, moved from Verona to Milan, with a very disappointing result: a pavilion occupied with around 40 stands, with a very high percentage of exhibitors in the world of electric cars. Instead, here I see a desire to start again and especially in the C&I segment which is arousing a lot of interest. And this is also why we presented and dedicated the stand above all to a new product of this type. We have also noticed this among our competitors: a lot of offer and attention to solutions for the commercial and industrial sectors.”

Paolo Zorzi, product manager at Fischer Italia, told pv magazine Italia that there was significant interest and numerous inquiries about the company’s products during the event.

“The hooks for sloping roofs with tiles have captured great attention and the public is varied and heterogeneous, interested above all in the aspects of ease of assembly afforded by the solutions,” said Zorzi. “This leverage is a thermometer of a positive market trend in the present and growing for the future.”

Elena Marchitelli, marketing manager for AIKO, a Chinese panel manufacturer, said the show offered an important opportunity to present the brand to the Italian public.

“It’s nice to be able to hear the positive feedback up close and witness the many requests for further information from the publicm” said Marchitelli. “The affluence was very high, with visitors super interested in understanding more about the products.”

Simone Motta, vendor manager of Italian distributor Sacchi Elettroforniture, noted the large public turnout.

“The interest at our stand was not so much in inverters, panels and storage, which could be found in large quantities at this fair, but in related products, therefore the power distribution part, including the medium voltage substation,” he said. “In a market where residential is not growing and where the C&I part is increasing, power distribution products are increasingly fundamental. This is a great interest that we expected, as well as the visitor’s attention to the possibility of contacting a single interlocutor, from the supply of the panel to the connection to the network.”

The visitors were mostly full of enthusiasm for the exhibition. However, there was a small percentage of people who complained about the large Asian presence at an Italian trade fair.

“We know that most of the technology is produced in China, but we expected an expo with more space for European [products],” one attendee told pv magazine.

Christian Previati, exhibition manager for KEY, noted the presence of storage technologies, which filled two entire pavilions.

“We believe there is still significant margin for growth, especially on large storage systems towards utility scale and C&I,” he told pv magazine Italy. “The next edition will be held from March 5 to 7, 2025 – dates that will allow us to have all the pavilions at our disposal, unlike this year. Being able to have them does not mean that we will automatically fill them. We plan to increase the number of occupied pavilions and better organize the future layout. This year, for example, we had to reject the last requests from companies that wanted to exhibit and we managed to satisfy some of the additional requests by opening pavilion C1.”

The event organizers have already started rebooking for the next show, with requests from both new and existing exhibitors to participate.

“We need to be more representative and therefore our criterion of choice will favor welcoming new companies that are appearing at the fair for the first time, rather than increasing the square meters of those who have already exhibited,” said Previati. “As regards the layout, in this edition we have already begun to segment the solar sector, which today occupies seven pavilions, moving the same type of technologies to nearby spaces. This is not yet a completed process, but it is well underway and will continue in this direction next year.”

This edition saw a significant increase in the presence of Chinese producers, who represent a substantial portion of the technology, but also European companies, including firms from Spain and Germany.

“All the panel manufacturers were present and it is a trend that will continue: it is the area from which we are receiving the most requests for expansions and positioning in recent days,” said Previati. “We expect further growth, and not simply in solar, which will embrace other rapidly developing sectors. I’m talking for example about heat pumps, already present in pavilion B5 in this edition, but which we are sure will increase by looking at the broader concept of energy efficiency of buildings and built environments, one of the prevalent areas of the energy transition.”

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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