Providing a boost for both the UK economy and the solar industry a Midlands-based company has today revealed plans to build a 30MW solar photovoltaics manufacturing plant in the UK.
Sunsolar was granted a £5 million Government fund backed by Sandwell Council and the Regional Growth Fund which will be added to a £5 million company investment. This finance will be used to build the new PV manufacturing facility, which will be based in Oldbury. Sunsolar is one of just 50 companies to achieve successful grants from the Fund.
The factory is due to be opened at the end of October and is expected to create almost 600 new jobs in the West Midlands.
Speaking with the Solar Power Portal Rob Grant, Sunsolar’s Business Manager, said: “We know there is a real buzz about the prospects renewable energy solutions have to offer this country.
“We are all very aware of the effect the credit crunch has had on the economy, as well as the great need for renewable energy sources across the world.
“To be able to create a factory environment that will not only employ local suppliers to work with, but create new jobs and offer viable and inexpensive energy sources to the UK, is something we’re extremely excited about.”
The new facility will produce both polycrystalline and monocrystalline PV modules with range of module outputs from 200W to 350W. The modules will be manufactured and sold under the Sunsolar brand.
To begin with the modules will be produced using cells purchased from Europe; however this is only on a short-term solution to get the factory up and running this year. Grant explained that the company is currently placing an order for cell manufacturing machinery which it expects to be in place by the beginning of next year. At that point the manufacturing of the whole module will come from within the UK.
“As a company, we are working very hard to try and buck the negative trend within manufacturing and are keen to change the decline in the industry, particularly within the Midlands and are actively working towards bringing business back into the local economy,” Grant continued.
“We hope the introduction of much needed jobs, use of local, UK based suppliers and the running of a self sufficient factory will put the Midlands on the map for a significant improvement within the industry in the next 12 months.”
Grant outlined that in the period 2013/14 Sunsolar will employ 44 new staff, yet this workforce is expected to increase to 565 by 2017/2018. These figures do not include the apprenticeships or growth within the company’s supply chain members. The facility is therefore expected to significantly boost employment in the local area.
The company also has big plans for the future of solar manufacturing in the UK as Grant revealed Sunsolar’s intention to invest in further UK-based facilities. “The Sunsolar management team is already seeking a 10-acre site for a purpose-build PV manufacturing and R&D facility and we expect to outgrow our initial site facility within 18 months,” he concluded.
Commenting on the announcement the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, said: “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.”
The modules are being initially manufactured for the UK market, however as the business grows and worldwide tariffs come into place Sunsolar will be looking to distribute worldwide.