“The adoption of photovoltaics is growing by more than 23% year on year. According to the European directive, new buildings will necessarily have to use not only roofs but also facades.” Fabrizio Chiara, CEO and Founder of Sunspeker, presented at StartupItalia the business of the early-stage startup, founded in 2019 and based in the Canavese area, near Ivrea, a city that has a wealth of heritage in innovation and technology.
To talk about films, recyclable films, to be stuck on solar panels to harmonize them in the urban and natural landscape, it is no coincidence that he started from an essential European regulatory element. From 2028, as the directive dictates, all new buildings must be zero-emission.
In a country like Italy, where the constraints to install solar panels in historic centers have slowed down the spread of this green technology, Sunspeker’s objective is to encourage the transition, using an adhesive PVC material that can hide under a film all the panels necessary to depend less and less on fossil fuels.
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Sunspeker recyclable films for panels
Sunspeker is one of the startups selected for the E-Qube Startup&Idea Challenge 2023, promoted by Estra in collaboration with Nana Bianca and StartupItalia to identify innovative ideas in the digital and sustainability fields. “The problem we are going to solve – explained Chiara – is intrinsic to the solar panels: they are ugly. But they are also necessary for the green transition.”
So the startup decided to patent its solution: it is a transparent film that covers all the panels with any type of image, be it tiles, a corner of vegetation, or an advertisement. The startup explained that it is also talking to the Superintendencies, precisely to solve a problem.
The goal is clear, but a legitimate question arises: in terms of efficiency, what impact does the film have on the work of the solar panel? “We keep transparency high: the panels remain 80% efficient.”
In certain contexts, where so far urban planning constraints have prevented the installation of panels, it could be an acceptable cost for the customer. The startup has adopted its solution in three buildings in Italy – between Sardinia, Veneto, and Umbria – and aims with an open capital raising (target set at €450,000) to digitize the process for transforming the images to be printed on films.
Sunspeker was also accelerated in HabiSmart, one of the accelerators of CDP Venture Capital (“It allowed us to obtain €115,000”). Thanks to the E-Cube journey, the aim is to arrive on the market within a year. “We will develop the product with this ambition.”
But how does the process work? Chiara gave the example of an outbuilding in Sardinia, where the company was contacted by the designer. In a landscaping-restricted area, the owner wanted to install solar panels.
“So we used a drone to shoot the surrounding vegetation with high-quality images.” Seen from above, the solar panel should be understood as the missing piece of a puzzle that, once attached, confuses that technology with vegetation. «We prepared the films for each panel and stuck them before installing them. The material degrades in approximately 10 years and when it is removed it must be differentiated, thus becoming a secondary raw material.”
Since Italy and Europe have ambitious objectives from the point of view of energy efficiency, solutions such as those of Sunspeker are proposed for a market that could potentially grow.
The other example is that of facades, on which the startup expects massive adhesion of solar panels. In this case, advertising would cover them. “We are also working on solutions for industrial plants. We are taking pre-orders to close the year with a thousand square meters of material produced.”
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First published in StartupItalia. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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