“World’s First” Flexible Solar Film Factory Opens in Israel
Israeli solar company, Apollo Power, has opened the “world’s first” plant that manufactures flexible panels that generate energy from the sun. Amazon, Volkswagen, and Audi are just a few of the high-profile customers lined up to deploy the mass-produced, lightweight solar film in the coming years.
The panels developed by Apollo Power enable just about any surface that receives the sun’s rays to be harnessed to create usable energy. Amazon, Audi, and Volkswagen plan to utilize the clean, “green” technology on their cars, ground transportation vehicles, aircraft, and rooftops.
The state-of-the-art, highly automated factory is located in Israel’s northern region. The 10,000-square-meter facility cost about $30 million to build. The plant is expected to generate 1.5 million square meters of solar film each year. According to Apollo Power officials, that translates into enough energy to power about 35,000 to 40,000 homes (190 megawatts).
“This innovative and automatic facility was built in a year and a half, utilizing groundbreaking technology we have developed ourselves in order to realize our vision of generating electricity from any surface exposed to the sun. The potential is endless,” said Apollo Power CEO Oded Rosenberg. “The technology of our flexible solar film is particularly suitable for installation on light roofs and water reservoirs and the automotive market.”
The company was founded in 2014 and has been publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange for the last five years. The flexible, lightweight panels can create power on surfaces where traditional, heavy glass solar panels can’t. The solar film comes in a basic unit of 12 square meters (128 square feet), which weighs 36 kilograms (almost 80 pounds). In contrast, a traditional glass solar panel is about 3 feet by 5 feet and weighs 40 pounds.
Apollo Power has also developed floating solar panels, which can generate solar power from the sunlight on the water in reservoirs and even water areas with waves and tides. Their solar technology also works on boats and sails.
Last year, Apollo Power signed a 10-year deal with Volkswagen. The German car manufacturer anticipates installing solar technology in some of their vehicles starting in July 2024. They are also working with Audi to get the flexible film onto the tops of the company’s electric vehicles as an additional power source to extend the cars’ driving range. Apollo is also in talks with Hyundai, Geely, and Renault. In addition, Amazon has already placed an order with Apollo to install the lightweight panels on the top of one of its French logistics facilities. And they have inked a deal with Tadiran Solar to distribute their product closer to home in Israel.