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The Specialty Group has begun work to develop composite solar roofing materials in sheet form from UV cured polyester resin prepreg called Auspreg.
This work forms part of a three year, $7 million dollar clean energy research and product development project which has attracted both Australian and Victorian State financial support.
Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Leipnik explains, “Currently (most) new homeowners will install a roof and then as a secondary process, will have another company come in and install a limited number of standard heavy glass fronted solar panels on top of the roof. Our intended technology is a building integrated photovoltaic product, known as BIPV, where the roofing material itself has solar cells embedded into it. This means that a “solar roof” can be installed on a house or a building as a one step process allowing for far more coverage of photovoltaic material, greater overall solar energy generation and far less installation cost”.
According to The Specialty Group they have been successful in attracting financial support for the project after securing $1.78 million through the Australian Government’s Textile Clothing and Footwear Strategic Capability Program, $1.4 million through the Victorian Government’s Department of Primary Industries ETIS SERD 2 program, as well as over $500,000 funding support from the Australian Government’s Textile Clothing and Footwear Post-2005 Strategic Investment Program Scheme 2005, Enterprise Connect RiB & TKC, the Clean Energy Council, and various Victorian Department of Industry, Innovation and & Regional Development (DIIRD) programs (now Department of Business and Innovation). They say they were also recently awarded $250,000 through the Department of Business and Innovations Competitive Business Fund, Round 2 – towards the purchase and installation of new high speed production equipment.
“The financial support we have received from both the State and Australian Governments has been invaluable in making this large scale product development project possible. It has also provided us with a very valuable form of endorsement that we can use to attract international and local collaboration in the form of Universities, research organisations and raw material partners that make up the technology consortium behind the project”, suggests Leipnik.
“We are planning to create a world first application for high volume, low cost, light weight solar roofing sheeting for a global market place that can be produced competitively in Australia on automated fully computerised advanced manufacturing equipment. Based on preliminary meetings we have had in the renewable energy sector, we believe that there is the potential for an Australian based manufacturing enterprise producing between $90-100 million a year of solar roofing sheeting requiring between 185- 200 employees, just for the Australian market place alone,” He predicts.
“The move to develop and commercialise high technology based solutions is all part of our Company’s larger objective to move away from more commodity based raw materials we have produced over the past 33 years to high demand, high performance materials for global growth markets”, Leipnik confirms.
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