INTEGRATED Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI) is set to manufacture solar panels fit for running passenger buses or sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in the Philippines as it brings United States technology in the country with the acquisition of Merlin Solar Technologies Inc.
Arthur Tan, IMI president, said the move is in line with the solar-power application’s move toward convergence of both mobility and applications. Tan said what the company is bringing to the Philippines is a US technology certified by the California highway state board thast has passed the environmental requirement for use in buses.
IMI is in the process of completing its facility, under unit Merlin Solar Technologies Inc., which will produce 100 megawatts of solar power a year. Its products are positioned for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations market and areas like Japan, apart from the Philippines.
Based in San Jose, California, Merlin Solar produces crystalline silicon-based solar panels that are suitable for metal roofs, auxiliary power for transportation and military applications, among others.
“These are highly flexible, very light solar panels used for transportation. And we are using the panel here and getting it for the Philippines. Applications, for example, are buses, trucks, SUVs, could be utility vehicles that have cooling requirement,” said Olaf Gresens, Merlin Solar president.
He added most of the buses in the Philippines today have a mechanical air-conditioning driven to a belt. This one cannot be directly solar-powered.
“What we have is a secondary airconditioner installed with its own battery charged from the rooftop, and we are expecting it can run multiple hours for air-conditioning while the buses are parked,” he said.
Gresens said the Philippine facility is already running engineering quantities and is being prepared for mass production later this year.
“We have just taken over the facility now, and we are in the process of the timeline of fixing the line. Now we can run on smaller quantity, and we expect to be producing before the end of the year,” he said.
Gresens said the Philippine facility will be the most automated of all its Asean operations once completed. It also has a facility in Thailand.