Hanergy joins rooftop solar tile market, in partnership with Australia’s CSR Group

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China-based Hanergy unveils thin film solar tile offering with a firm eye to the Australian market – and a design hat-tip to a bizarre Queensland landmark.

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China-based thin-film solar specialist Hanergy has unveiled a new solar tile offering with a firm eye to the Australian market – and a design hat-tip to a bizarre Queensland landmark – through a collaboration with local industrial giant CSR.

The two companies said on Wednesday that they had agreed to begin pre-sales of the Thin Film Flat SOLARtile in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, Japan and United States markets, ahead of an official global launch later this year.

The SOLARtiles, which are being marketed in Australia through CSR roofing subsidiary Monier, contain Hanergy’s CIGS thin-film solar chips, which the company claims allows them to achieve a conversion efficiency as high as 18.7 per cent. The cost of the technology is as-yet undeclared.

As you can see in the images – taken from a display at Monier HQ in Sydney’s Rosehill – the SOLARtile is flat, with a square shape, that is installed in a “cross bond” structure, where a tile-to-tile interlock is placed in the middle of next row’s tile to maximise waterproof performance.

This gives the solar tiles the design appearance the two companies say is inspired by the Gympie Pyramid – a sandstone terraced hill on the outskirts of Gympie in Queensland, just in case you weren’t aware – “to feature a traditional Pacific vibe and improve the aesthetics of the housing.”

This latest move into solar tiles – the company has previously come up with a curved solar tile design, that was never advanced commercially – and into direct competition with the likes of Tesla, is a big step for Hanergy, which has had a rather torrid time on the Hong Kong stock market over the past few years.

This included the paper value loss of $19 billion in just 47 minutes of trading in May 2015, when an apparent margin call triggered a collapse in its share price after months of market fascination with its unusual accounting practices and seemingly unstoppable price gains.

The partnership with CSR, which claims a 70 per cent share of Australia’s roofing market, gives Hanergy’s solar tile a generous foot in the door to the local ANZ market, although Hanergy has also suggested that its “pacific vibe” technology could fare better in the US, where it is well-matched with housing standards and the asphalt shingle roofing market.

But there is no easy road into solar tiles, as Tesla itself appears to be finding out, with the company copping no shortage of flack over the three-year hiatus since its own solar shingles were launched to much fanfare.

Not to be deterred, however, Tesla’s Elon Musk declared 2019 “the year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall,” at the company’s March unveiling of the Tesla Model Y SUV.

“Because of the extreme challenges with the Model 3 production, we had to basically allocate all resources to Model 3 production because otherwise, we were going to die,” he said.

Elsewhere, offerings have also been flagged from RGS Energy, GAF Energy, Sunflare, Certainteed and Midsummer who, according to PV Magazine, has announced a metal solar roof thin film product for the US market, all to varying degrees of success.

But Hanergy seems optimistic, its media release on Tuesday claiming the combination of CSR’s dominant market share in Australia and experience in the roofing and construction industry, and Hanergy’s thin-film solar technologies, has already “borne great fruits.”

“We’re particularly excited about the launch of Thin Film Flat SOLARtile in the global market,” said Hanergy Thin Film Power Group vice president, Lv Yuan.

We’re confident that our latest solar roof tiling solution will set a new standard in the global solar market. Further, we’re thrilled to join forces with CSR Group and hope to create yet another case study pronouncing the huge success of our soon to be launched solar roof tiling solution.”

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