Following its 100% capacity increase, reported in July last year, Sharp UK has announced the creation of 300 new jobs at its solar manufacturing plant in Wrexham, Wales. This news takes the company’s total number of UK-based employees from 800 to 1,100.

Sharp is to almost double its annual production capacity to 500MW per year by March 2011, which is enough to power over 170,000 homes in the UK. An additional 3,000 panels will be produced each day, increasing manufacturing from 5,000 to 8,000 once the expansion is complete. This growth places Sharp as the biggest employer in the UK renewable energy sector to date.

Andrew Lee, head of international sales for Sharp said; “This job creation proves that there is an appetite for solar technology in the UK and that this sector has huge growth potential, bucking the trend in the wider economy. Despite growing unemployment figures and concerns over rising interest rates and inflation, the FiT led to a shot in the arm for the solar industry, and we’ve responded by creating jobs to help drive industry growth potential for UK. Plc.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne said, “This is excellent news for the solar industry and for Sharp, which shows that green growth is a vital part of our economic recovery. Since feed-in tariffs began, the scheme has stimulated a market in solar panels which has seen around 19,000 installed to date.”

Sharp has invested in excess of over £20 million in the factory. By increasing its capacity, Sharp pushes forward with a “local production for local consumption” approach in order to amplify cost competitiveness and shorten delivery times. This means that delivery to the UK will climb from 1% in 2009 to approximately 10% by 2011.

The UK is one of the world’s fastest growing markets for solar panel technology, with over 17,244 solar installations recorded by Ofgem since the start of the FiT to December 2010. As recently reported, the UK FiT also continues to promote employment in the green sector, with over 17,000 jobs expected as a direct result of the subsidy, providing the tariff is left uncut.