Sunman Energy, the innovative solar tech company founded and chaired by “Sun King” Zhengrong Shi, has launched a massive new “giga-scale” production facility for its lightweight, flexible “solar skin” panels in China.
Reports emerged this week that the company, which not unlike Tesla appears to use little direct marketing, had brought online what it claims to be the world’s “largest” production facility for lightweight solar modules, with 1GW capacity.
The new factory is located in YangZhong city of Jiangsu province in China and – according to a report from Taiyang News – was recently inaugurated by the Sunman management team, including Dr Shi.
Dr Shi is a graduate of Australia’s University of New South Wales and was once dubbed the “Sun King” for his key role in PV innovation as well as in founding Suntech – once one of the world’s biggest solar companies before its collapse.
His new technology is a lightweight and flexible form of solar PV using a polymer-based “skin”, sold by Sunman under the brand of “eArc” panels.
The lightweight, and glass-free polymer composite material makes the modules 70 per cent lighter than their conventional glass panel counterparts, making them cheaper to transport and easier to install because they can be glued to a surface.
“The flexibility of the panels means they offer multiple benefits,” Shi said back in 2020.
“They can be moulded to contoured surfaces, offering potential for use beyond conventional rooftops. They can be used for mobile power generation, making them suitable for remote sites and vehicles. They can also be integrated into construction materials, to allow solar PV to be used to encase a building.”
In 2020, Sunman Energy caught the attention of Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which tipped in as one of the main contributors to a $US12 million fundraising round that also attracted backing from Australia’s Southern Cross Ventures.
Australia was also the host to some of the earliest installations of the Sunman panels, including such notable projects as the rooftop array for the National Maritime Museum in Sydney and on Byron Bay’s solar train.
More recently, Cola Solar recently installed a nearly 30kW array of Sunman panels on the roof of its regional Victoria warehouse – you can watch a cool video about that install below.