The lightweight, flexible solar panels manufactured by SunMan have found a showcase on a library rooftop in Queensland. The solar panels were installed on the building’s curved roofline, a task made possible by the innovative, non-glass product marketed in Australia by SunMan founder, Dr Shi Zhengrong.
The solar array on the library in Noosaville is now featuring a 72.5 kW system comprised of 250 eArche solar panels. The 290 W modules weigh just 5.5 kilograms each, compared to most glass solar panels which weigh around 20 kilograms. The eArche panels can be bonded directly to the surface using structural-grade silicon, which eliminates risk of water penetration caused by traditional solar mounting systems.
“The installation was less labour-intensive than traditional glass panels,” said Noosa Shire Mayor Tony Wellington, adding that local contractors spent about two weeks installing the system. “The non-glass panels also perform better in extreme weather conditions such as hail. With the summer storm season upon us, the timing couldn’t be better.”
eArche panels are produced by five-year-old solar technology firm Sunman, whose founder Zhengrong – also known as “the Sun King” for becoming the world’s first clean energy billionaire – founded another solar panel manufacturer, Suntech. The modules are based on standard monocrystalline PERC cells and are available in framed and non-framed versions. Although there are other lightweight panels on the market, eArche is the only product with the International Electrotechnical Commission’s certification IEC 61215, which defines requirements for PV modules suitable for long-term outdoor operation.
Over the past five years, SunMan has developed, extensively tested and commercialised its eArche panels; and already has 50 MW of global installations and 1 MW installed in Australia. The product was officially launched on the Australian market in August with a 235 kW solar installation unveiled at Australian National Maritime Museum’s Heritage Centre. Previously, eArche solar panels were used for Byron Bay’s solar train.
The latest installation at the curved roofline of Noosaville Library represents another significant step in reducing Council’s carbon footprint. Earlier this year, Noosa Shire Council became the first local government in Queensland to declare a ‘climate emergency’.
“This is another innovative leap towards our promise of being carbon neutral by 2026, “Wellington said. “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.”