SunDrive: Solar Panel Inventor, With Roots in Maroubra, Secures $8 Million Funding

Former university roommates David Hu and Vince Allen started building the early versions of their solar power technology at a garage in Maroubra in 2015. Five years later, the partners have scored $8 million in funding to make efficient renewable power commercially available under their now-flourishing company, SunDrive.

Leading capitalists Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures led the funding round to help Mr Hu and Mr Allen expand their invention to develop more affordable cells. After securing $5 million from the investors, SunDrive also received a $3 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 

SunDrive is working to drive down the costs of solar panels whilst improving its energy efficiency and conserving silver resources. Mr Allen, who has a Ph.D. in solar power at the University of New South Wales, developed a way to replace the panel’s silver electrodes with copper. 

As demand for solar power rises, Mr Allen and Mr Hu don’t see silver as a sustainable option because it is expensive and could soon be depleted given the demand. On the other hand, copper is more abundant and available and has more efficient electrodes than silver.

But the technology to ensure that the copper sticks to the silicon onto the solar panel plates was not yet developed until SunDrive came along. The company will use the funding to perfect this technology and sell cost-effective solar panels. 

Photo Credit: Instagram

Mr Hu projects that their product will be ready for the market in two and a half years as great ideas need time for enhancements. 

From the garage in Maroubra to a workspace in Wollongong with a team of six, SunDrive will be relocating to Kirrawee with 16 staff.