PVTIME - Sunman has secured US$7 million in funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to further develop its revolutionary lightweight, flexible solar panels.
The CEFC committed the investment through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund to the Sunman US$12 million Series B capital raising, alongside company founder Dr. Zhengrong Shi and Southern Cross Venture Partners.
It will see the innovative solar energy technology behind its eArc solar modules further developed and deployed, and its installation processes optimized.
Solar energy entrepreneur Dr. Shi, dubbed "the Sun King", said the CEFC support would allow Sunman to accelerate its transformation of solar modules use in Australia.
"The next frontier is to deliver on their potential to encase the exterior of a building by integrating the technology into construction material," he said.
This would expand the application of eArc modules, allowing them to be integrated into building facades and other surfaces, growing the size and market potential of solar in Australia.
The eArc modules can already be used across a wider range of applications than existing glass modules, as they are 70 percent lighter than a glass module and 14-17 kg lighter than conventional panels.
They are made of a lightweight polymer composite material and are cheaper to transport and easier to install as they can be glued to a surface. Gluing panels to the roof solve structural limitations with regards to uplift forces.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: "The flexibility of the eArc panel means we can be more creative about where we install solar PV, moving beyond flat rooftops to awnings, carports, carpark canopies and building facades."
"The lighter weight of the panels also means solar can be extended across existing rooftops on factories, warehouses, garages and other structures that are not strong enough to support heavier glass panels."
Dr. Shi said an estimated 40% of commercial roofs are structurally "slender" and cannot accommodate the weight or uplift of glass solar modules.
"eArc also opens up the untapped membrane roof market, a segment that has been overlooked by many solar installers as being too expensive or difficult."
"Unlike glass modules, eArc can be bonded like a 'solar skin' directly to these roofs with zero penetration."
Sunman's lightweight eArc module allows businesses to maximize the potential of their idle roof assets to significantly reduce their electricity costs while achieving their corporate sustainability targets.
Compared to installing glass modules, eArc also results in shorter completion time, easier safety management and less disruption to the business' core activities.
"Our eArc modules are providing a wealth of benefits to businesses around Australia, and with this new investment, that will only increase," Shi said.
"Our technology will revolutionize the way Australians approach solar and save them money on energy bills."
Sunman is the parent company of Australian business Energus, which last year installed the country's largest lightweight solar module roof on the Australian National Maritime Museum's Heritage Centre in Darling Harbour.
The facility could not use conventional solar modules due to its weight constraints and heritage status, and with the eArc modules was able to reduce the Museum's electricity consumption by 25%.
The modules also already power the Byron Bay solar train, having been moulded to fit its curved roof.