Integrated solar tile company prepares to list

Gold Coast company Trac Group Holdings is preparing for an IPO to underwrite global expansion of the company’s integrated solar and insulated panel roofing product, Tractile.

Company founder and chief executive Jason Perkins said the company’s initial capital raising this year generated $835,000 worth of investment, including two significant investors from the oil and gas sector looking to future-proof their financial holdings.

Mr Perkins said the investors were both providers of drilling equipment to the oil and gas sector, who were responding to both the drop of oil and gas prices and the rise in solar.

“They were looking for where they can make a smart [financial] bet, and integrated solar and roofing is the smart way for them to hedge their bets,” he said.

Tractile combines solar power generation, solar hot water generation and insulation in a cyclone-rated roofing product made from composite materials. It is the result of eight years of research and development, and has won numerous awards including an Australian Design Award and a Queensland Premier’s Award for Sustainability.

The $3 million research and development process was largely internally funded, with some early assistance from Ergon Energy.

Mr Perkins said the state-government owned energy retailer had identified that with the rise in electric vehicle uptake, and data showing that an EV can use the same amount of power as an average home in a year, the need to grow solar in order to meet future power demands was crucial.

Like a smart phone

Mr Perkins compared the integrated roofing product concept to the smart phone. Instead of people needing four things that each do a single job, one multi-function product can do all of them.

“When you look at the different elements of a roof and what it can do – weather protection, hot water system, solar power, a smarter roof can do all those things, and the customer is not having to deal with multiple companies and suppliers.”

To date a number of projects in Brisbane, Sydney and Port Douglas have had Tractile installed. The company is also collaborating with developer Brentnall Luxury Homes on a prestige acreage development at Araluen the Estate at Brisbane. The developer aims to give residents the option of living either on-grid or off-grid through utilising the integrated PV roofing.

Manufacture is being undertaken in Malaysia, however all testing and engineering certification is being completed in Australia. Part of the proceeds of the IPO will be used to finalise certifications suitable for the international market, which the company has firmly in its sights.

Exceeding standards

Mr Perkins said the development team looked for the “toughest” international standards and then designed to exceed them. This includes fire-rating, with independent third party testing giving the roofing product a Bushfire Attack Level rating of 40, making them suitable for active bushfire zones. They are cyclone-rated to wind speeds of 300 kilometres an hour.

If we look at what the data’s telling us about climate change, he said, a product that both reduces emissions and is resilient to extreme weather impacts is timely given the identified trends.

The composite materials are lightweight, and also non-corrosive, which makes them extremely resilient for costal property. The company also participated in the Queensland Government’s Embedded Energy of Composites Project, with the researchers finding the roofing was eight times more sustainable than concrete or steel, and generated 4.5 times less CO2 per kilogram.

One of the major challenges has been the size of the Australian market. Being small, it took some time to establish a price point that would make commercialisation viable for the company.

“We needed to make sure we could find consumers who would pay for it,” Mr Perkins said.

Mr Perkins said the company was currently finalising its prospectus for submission to ASICS and the ASX in September, and is targeting October for the IPO.

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