Midlands-based solar firm to build £10m UK PV manufacturing plant
Green business news - by Louise Bateman
25th June 2012
A small solar installation firm based in the West Midlands is set to rapidly expand after securing £5 million of Government funding to supports its plans for a solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant in the UK.
, which currently employs less than 20 full-time staff, is building a £10 million PV solar panel manufacturing plant
in Oldbury after securing £5 million from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund
. The company said the new plant will be the first in the UK to manufacture entire solar PV panels and will create 565 jobs over the next five years. Parent company, Midland-based family owned manufacturing and distribution firm Orbit International Plc, is match funding the Government’s £5 million investment with a further £5 million.
"This represents a massive boost. We’re one of 50 local businesses to have got regional growth funding. For a very small company like ourselves to get that sort of amount is a stake in the ground," Sunsolar business development manager Rob Grant told GreenWise
First for UK
With a capacity of 30 megawatts a year, the plant will produce both monocrystalline and polycrystalline PV modules, all under the Sunsolar brand. Production is due to begin in November with cells at first imported from Europe. However, Grant said the facility
would be fully manufacturing PV modules, including the cells, from early 2013, creating wider benefits to the UK economy.
"The whole idea is to bring manufacturing back to the UK," he said. "Everything we purchase will be local."
There are currently only a handful of UK solar manufacturers in the UK and currently all focus on assembly.
The new manufacturing plant offers further encouragement that the UK’s solar sector could be recovering after being rocked by months of uncertainty due to of changes to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), the Government’s subsidy scheme for small-scale solar electricity.
Solar PV installations hit an all time low
in April, following cuts to the FiT, but early indications suggest that installations are on the up again.
"The response we’ve had [from installers] has been fantastic and that it’s about time the UK market did this," said Grant who said the new solar panels would be cost competitive with those produced abroad.
News of the new plant was welcomed by Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker: "This announcement is fantastic news for Oldbury, bringing new jobs and investment,
and a huge vote of confidence in the outlook for the solar industry in the UK. I want to see many more UK businesses taking the lead in the growing global market for green energy."
, currently the UK’s biggest PV panel manufacturer, indicated this month its intention for a major push in the UK when it said it planned to relocate its German headquarters to its manufacturing plant in Wrexham in Wales and would be switching its business model to 'PV-Kit’ systems instead of stand-alone components.
Like this story? Please subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter at the top of the page for more content like this.