MELBOURNE – August 5th, 2011 – Moorabbin based manufacturers of technical and industrial textiles and composite raw materials, The Specialty Group, announced today that it has begun work on the creation of a world first innovation in renewable energy technology as part of a three year, $7 million dollar clean energy research and product development project which has attracted both Commonwealth and Victorian State financial support.
Developing solar roofing materials
The company aims to develop solar roofing materials in sheet form and expects to transform the way owners of homes or buildings can generate renewable energy from the sun. 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".
Essentially the concept will enable roofers to grab large corrugated panels off the ground or a truck, lift them up onto a roof, screw them into the rafters like standard corrugated roofing materials and then connect the wires from each panel into an inverter so that the majority of a house or a building's roof is one big giant solar panel.
Attracting financial support from various sources
The Specialty Group has been successful in attracting considerable financial support for the project after securing $1.78 million through the Commonwealth Government's TCF Strategic Capability Program, $1.4 million through the Victorian Government's Department of Primary Industries ETIS SERD 2 program, as well as over 500K funding support from AusIndustry's TCF SiP, 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). The Company was 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 Federal 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,"
And Leipnik may just be correct in his predictions. According to the Australian Institute of Commercialisation, the value of solar panels installed in Australia in 09/10 reached 2 billion dollars with almost all products currently imported from China. The Industry is set to see record growth of almost 24% a year fuelled in part by sky rocketing energy costs but also due to support by Government for renewable energy fed back into the grid.
"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.
With the Federal Government planning to establish a carbon tax and a 10 billion dollar clean energy council to support clean energy innovations and derive more of the country's energy from renewable sources, The Specialty Group may just find their future becoming exceedingly bright beyond all of its expectations.
For more information or images contact:
Mr. Daniel Leipnik | Chief Executive Officer
The Specialty Group
Telephone: 03 9555 8766
Mobile: 0447 774 526