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The solar market is maturing. This was clear at Intersolar Europe 2011. At the world's largest trade fair for solar technologies, the majority of the professionals visiting the Hydro were well aware of the potential of aluminium as a cost-effective material for solar application. Their attention was directed toward market-ready concepts.

The material has been accepted, and application development has gotten serious.

"This has not happened overnight. We have spent many years working on and improving products and applications that are acceptable for the ideas coming out of the solar market, and I think the market as a whole recognizes this," says Hans-Joachim Kock, executive vice president responsible for Hydro's extruded products operations.

"It has put us in a category of companies that serious players need to speak with before they industrialize their concepts."

Broad range, individual solutions

The benefits of aluminium include light weight, corrosion resistance, competitive pricing and efficient installation capabilities. The metal is a good conductor of heat and electricity, reflects sunlight and it is fully recyclable.

Hydro serves local and global customers in each of the market’s three main segments – solar thermal, concentrated solar power, photovoltaic – for all areas of solar energy production. Products include lightweight mirrors for concentrated solar power and absorber sheet for solar thermal applications, and a corrosion-resistant "solar" alloy.

The company's range of capabilities also includes mounting systems that are fully fabricated and ready for installation in CSP applications, and building-integrated solar energy systems that are indispensable for zero-energy structures.

Hydro has worked on some of the largest solar-related projects in the world. Signature projects like the first hybrid fossil fuel/CSP generating station, recently completed in Florida, is one.

"All projects improve our capabilities," says Kock, noting that Hydro recently assisted with the design and production of extruded aluminum components for a modular racking system for PV power generation, now in operation atop a warehouse in Pennsylvania.

Other solar highlights from Hydro:

  • Test results for HyLife Solar alloy from Solartechnik Prüfung Forschung (SPF)
  • Launch of HyBridAl aluminium strip for concentrated solar power systems
  • Launch of HySelect coating for solar thermal systems
  • First orders for aluminium tubes for solar collectors
  • Testing of double-skin façades with PV cells integrated on the outer glass