Image: Power Roll.

Flexible solar company Power Roll hailed the success of two funding rounds, with a total £5.8 million investment to enable the company to scale-up manufacturing.

It received equity investment from 7 Ventures (i7v), Kero Development Partners and RAB Capital of £3 million. Additionally, it converted £1,250,000 loans into equity as part of the government’s Future Fund scheme.

The Future Fund scheme was launched to support businesses affected by COVID-19, including those pre-profit that rely on equity investment. The scheme initially offered £250 million of government investment matched by private investment, but has since been expanded. It opened in May 2020, and closed in January 2021.

“The innovative nature of Power Roll’s technology has the capacity to change the outlook of solar installation the world over, not only by a dramatic reduction in cost, but also because it opens up the use of a huge variety of sites and buildings that would not be suited to traditional solar installations,” said Doug Duguid, chief executive of i7v.

“Power Roll’s core microgroove technology has a number of other applications beyond solar, and as a result they have created a platform product with potentially multiple uses, which is very appealing to us as an investor.”

Power Roll developed an ultra-low-cost and lightweight flexible solar film, which can be used both for generation and storage. The microgroove technology was invented by Dr John Topping back in 2011, who created Big Solar Limited to commercialise it in 2012.

The company was rebranded as Power Roll in 2018, and the following year sercured its first commercial license, signing a joint venture with Deki Electronics.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Neil Spann, CEO of Power Roll, said the company has proven the science behind their technology and produced a number of small scale working demonstrators already. “Unlike other solar technologies, in a relatively small area we can demonstrate our solar technology in full. In a 20cm2 sample, we have 8,000 individual solar cells connected into 500 separate modules which is completely unique.”

The latest funding round will allow the company to scale up both technically and commercially.

“We have ordered the equipment necessary to complete our first roll to roll pilot scale manufacturing line in the North East, which will be operational in the second half of 2021,” continued Spann. “The output capacity from this pilot plant will be up to 5MW and our vision is to then scale up to much larger scale manufacturing through strategic partnerships and/or licencing agreements with third parties.

“We are in discussions with a range of potential partners and hope to have some further commercial news soon.”