Israel’s Apollo Power opens ‘world’s first’ factory for flexible solar film panels
Amazon, Volkswagen and Audi are among a number of companies deploying the company’s technology for use on cars, roofs and aircraft
Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.
The Israeli solar energy company Apollo Power that developed technology turning surfaces into an energy source using the sun’s rays, and is deployed by e-commerce giant Amazon and German car manufacturer Volkswagen, has opened a flagship factory for the mass production of solar panels, which it says is the first of its kind in the world.
The 10,000 square meter facility, which was built at an investment of NIS 100 million ($30 million) to step up Apollo Power’s production of flexible solar panels is located in Yokneam’s Mevo Carmel Science and Industry Park in Israel’s north.
The automatic facility is expected to reach an annual production output of 1.5 million square meters in solar film, or an annual capacity of about 190 megawatts, which equals the average consumption of 35,000-40,000 households, the company said.
Founded in 2014 by CEO Oded Rosenberg and CTO Eran Mimon, Apollo has developed technology for the manufacturing for flexible, lightweight, durable and high-efficiency solar films that it says can turn any sun-kissed surfaces into energy-producing surfaces that generate electricity.
The solar panels are made for surfaces such as on cars, trucks, roofs and aircraft, that cannot support the weight of glass solar panels. The size of the basic unit of the solar film is 12 square meters and weighs 3 kilograms per square meter.
Traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange since 2017, Apollo says its floating solar panels produce electricity on water surfaces, and are durable to waves, making them suitable for a variety of marine vehicles and sails.
“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 Rosenberg. “The technology of our flexible solar-film is particularly suitable for installation on light roofs and water reservoirs and the automotive market.”
The opening of the facility comes as Apollo last year inked its first commercial deal in the global automotive market, with Germany’s Volkswagen commercial vehicles group. Under the terms of the 10-year agreement, Apollo will supply Volkswagen with tens of thousands of solar sheets in a deal valued at €33 million (436 million). The solar energy films are expected to be incorporated into Volkswagen vehicle models starting from July 2024.
Additionally, the company is collaborating with German car manufacturer Audi to integrate flexible and lightweight solar panels into the materials that make up the roof of its electric vehicles. Apollo also has projects with other car brands such as Hyundai, Renault and Geely.
“The solar sheet generates electricity from solar energy and helps to extend the driving range of the car,” Apollo said.
In February last year, Apollo got an order from Amazon to install light solar sheets on the roof of one of its logistics centers in France and to deploy its technology on a 50-square-meter sidewalk on a substrate of recycled rubber to generate solar power.
In September the company entered into an agreement to supply Tadiran Solar with flexible solar panels for a minimum quantity of 26 megawatts. The deal is part of an agreement for Tadiran to become Apollo’s exclusive distributor in the light roof market in Israel.