The lightweight, flexible solar panels being marketed in Australia by UNSW solar royalty Dr Shi Zhengrong have found their way onto a library on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, in what is claimed to be Australia’s first curved-roof solar installation.
The Noosa Council said this week that it had installed 250 of the SunMan eArche solar panels on the Noosaville Library’s curved roofline, in a move that was expected to generate almost half of the library’s electricity needs.
The 72kW system was installed by local contractors, over the space of around two weeks, using a special adhesive.
Noosaville Mayor Tony Wellington said the non-glass panels were also expected to perform better in extreme weather conditions such as hail and cyclonic winds.
“These solar panels are accredited by the Clean Energy Council and will have a significant impact on reducing the cost of electricity consumption for the building,” Wellington said.
“They are thin and flexible, cyclone rated and work with the unique curved roofline of the library.
“This is another innovative leap towards our promise of being carbon neutral by 2026,” the Mayor added.
“The library joins nine other council facilities that are now generating electricity through large solar installations, some of which are slashing power consumption by up to 80 per cent.”
As RenewEconomy reported in August, Dr Shi – the man dubbed the ‘Sun King’ for his contributions to solar R&D and for becoming the world’s first clean energy billionaire – this year returned to Australia to spruik the eArche module, that has achieved astonishing reductions in weight and size.
The modules, officially launched on the Australian market through Shi’s Sunman venture in August, make up the 235kW solar installation at Sydney’s Maritime Museum.
They use otherwise standard monocrystalline PERC solar cells, encapsulated into a composite material structure that provide the same durability and performance as regular solar cells, but with a dramatic reduction in the weight of the modules.
And Dr Shi hopes they can tap into a massive unserved market in Australia for light-weight rooftop solar power.
“When I developed eArche I knew it could unlock the potential for solar on buildings which were previously unable to support conventional glass solar panels,” he said at the August launch.
“eArche innovations such as its light weight, flexibility, high performance and competitive costs, means that solar can now be applied to any building design.”