The two people behind Supan, Dr. Sudhanshu Varma and Dr. Raye Thomas are pioneers in the global solar photovoltaic (PV) industry and a global success story in making solar energy mainstream. The team of Drs Varma and Thomas with their long and loyal association has played a key role in establishing the Canadian solar energy scene.

Dr. Thomas with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, developed a cutting edge microelectronics and solar photovoltaic research program at Carleton University in Ottawa and started a company TPK Solar Systems in Canada in 1979 to market this technology.

TPK started manufacturing solar cells in 1982 using technology developed by Dr. Thomas, while a university professor, and also started producing solar PV modules in 1983. TPK also developed and built custom solar photovoltaic manufacturing equipment and eventually began to offer turnkey solar cell and module production lines to customers around the world in 1984 as one of only two companies in the world to do so at that time.

Dr. Varma, with a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in India and with photovoltaic research and manufacturing experience since 1974, joined TPK in 1984 and focussed on technology development, module manufacturing and production line integration as the Director of Technology and Production Manager. He was an integral part of TPK's effort to see solar module and cell manufacturing facilities being sold and commissioned in India, China, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. TPK installed the first solar cell and module production lines in China in 1985, which spearheaded the Chinese solar energy development program.

TPK was sold to AstroPower of the USA in 1988, and AstroPower Canada was established as a subsidiary with Dr. Thomas as its head. AstroPower Canada continued to develop and market solar PV manufacturing and test equipment and also manufactured PV modules supplying to AstroPower USA (Now GE Solar).

After TPK, Dr. Varma worked as the Research Director and Vice President of Sensor Technology Ltd till 1997. He was the Principal Investigator of a series of Canadian Space Agency funded projects on materials research in space and smart structures at Sensor Technology as well as at Supan Technologies, a company he founded in 1997. His space experiments have been conducted on parabolic flight aircraft, sounding rockets and Mir space station and his results are amongst important findings by Canadian scientists in materials processing in space.

A new venture, Darentek Corporation, was established by Dr. Thomas in 1990 which continued to manufacture and sell solar PV modules, design and install PV systems as well as PV manufacturing equipment. Darentek was acquired by Megasol Corporation, which went public in 1993.

Dr. Thomas continued to be at the cutting edge of solar PV technology, including in the late 1990s focussing on Spheral Silicon Solar Cell research and manufacturing in collaboration with Ontario Hydro Technologies, which acquired the technology from Texas Instruments, while also providing equipment and technology through his new venture NewSun Technologies. NewSun supplied solar cell manufacturing lines to its customers in South Korea, Taiwan and Norway and individual equipment and module lines to many other countries, including Germany. Dr. Varma joined NewSun as a consultant and Director of Technology in 2000 to lead solar cell production line projects in Norway and Taiwan. NewSun ceased its operations in 2003 and Dr. Thomas joined Supan after that.

Dr. Thomas was a co-founder of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) and also served as its Vice-President and President in 1990s. CanSIA is now a powerful force in promoting solar energy technologies in North America. Its highlight is the annual Solar Canada Conference and Exhibition held Toronto.

Dr. Thomas provided much of the technical material and co-authored a Photovoltaic Systems Design Manual published in 1991 by Natural Resources Canada, and taught several design courses using this manual as a guide. He was also part of a team that wrote the first PV Standards in Canada for the CSA, served on the IEC TC82 Technical Committee which wrote the international standards for PV, and since 2000 has been instrumental in the adoption by Canada of the key IEC and UL PV module testing and performance standards.

During the 1980s and 1990s Dr. Thomas was also involved in designing and installing numerous PV systems in Canada, including the first grid-connected system in the Kortright Centre and the 75 kW PV system at the Hugh J. MacMillan Re-Hab Centre in Toronto (the largest grid-connected PV system in Canada prior to 2000) and in several developing countries.

Supan Technologies and Supan Solar Solutions evolved out of these rich experiences of Drs Varma and Thomas. Supan, with the integrated experience of its principals from solar cell and module manufacturing to systems design, installation and commissioning, brings years of cutting edge experience to serve Canada and the world in furthering solar photovoltaics.

Supan Technologies started with materials research in Space and then focused on offering PV manufacturing and business advisory services to its global customers. It is now offering turnkey photovoltaic manufacturing lines and production equipment in Canada in partnership with Spire Corporation, a publicly listed company in the USA and a global leader in photovoltaic manufacturing lines.

With the introduction of the Feed-in-tariff program for solar power in 2009, Supan principals saw an opportunity and a need to present an experienced turnkey solar system integration team to Ontario market. Supan Solar Solutions was thus born in 2010 to offer solar PV project development, engineering, procurement, construction, on-going monitoring and maintenance services. Supan Solar Solutions is already making headway in collaboration with SP-One of the USA, which has installed over 10 MW of grid connected solar PV systems. Supan Solar Solutions first large rooftop solar PV system (232 KW) in Inglewood, Ontario, was grid-connected in May 2011. The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) inspector rated it as the best rooftop solar installation he had seen in Ontario to date. Supan Solar Solutions has a strong pipeline of solar projects under development in Ontario including several it has developed as a channel partner of SunEdison, one of the largest solar asset holders across North America.