Light, flexible panel burns the rule book on where PV can be installed
Renewable Energy

Light, flexible panel burns the rule book on where PV can be installed

August 15th, 2019

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The 235-kilowatt, 812-panel, rooftop solar installation at the Australian National Maritime Museum is the largest lightweight solar roof in the country(Credit: Australian National Maritime Museum, ARENA)

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The Australian National Maritime Museum has installed the country’s largest lightweight solar panel roof on its Wharf 7 Heritage Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbor. By using flexible, glass-free solar panels designed by Dr. Zhengrong Shi of SunMan Energy, buildings which previously were considered unsuitable for solar panels can now take part in the renewable energy revolution.

Dr. Shi’s flexible and lightweight solar panel design, called eArche, opens up a whole new marketplace which the traditional solar panel industry has been unable to tackle to date. While the broad expanses atop many factories, warehouses and similar buildings may seem ideal for solar panels, these light, metal-skinned roofs generally don’t have the structural integrity to support the weight of traditional solar panels.

The Australian National Maritime Museum spent years looking for a viable solar solution for its buildings, but traditional panels simply weren’t an option. Eventually, the museum came across SunMan’s eArche, a 5.5-kg (12-lb), glass-free, thin and flexible panel, which – despite being around 70 percent lighter – had the same power out as heavy, conventional panels. The end result is a 235-kilowatt, 812-panel, rooftop solar installation, which has enabled the museum to offset almost 25 percent of the electricity consumption for the Wharf 7 Heritage Centre.

“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,” says Dr. Shi. “eArche innovations such as its light weight, flexibility, high performance and com

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