Made of the much lighter material, the panels are cheaper to transport and can be bonded directly to the exterior of a building with glue, akin to a “solar skin”, according to Dr Shi.
The product is already under commercial production, with customers across Australia, Europe, Japan, China and south-east Asia. The fresh injection of funds will be used to diversify the range of applications.
“The next frontier is to deliver on their potential to encase the exterior of a building by integrating the technology into construction material,” Dr Shi said.
The flexibility of the product also expands the realm of possibility for solar generation beyond flat rooftops to awnings, carports, carpark canopies and building facades. The panels could also be harnessed for mobile power generation, making them suitable for remote sites and vehicles.
“The lighter weight of the panels also means solar can be extended across existing rooftops on factories, warehouses, garages and other structures that are not strong enough to support heavier glass panels,” said Ian Learmonth, CEFC chief executive.
The eArc panels already power the Byron Bay solar train, where they have being moulded to fit its curved roof, and have been installed on the steeply sloping roof of Sydney’s Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.