A new solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant in the North East is set to provide up to 60 new jobs on Tyneside. Production started this week at the £5 million-a-year manufacturing plant, which aims to provide high-specification photovoltaic modules to the whole European market.

Sunfest Solar currently employs 21 people on-site, but are aiming to recruit 60 electrical engineers and technicians over the coming months to operate three production shifts.

Commenting on the development of the manufacturing plant, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sunfest Solar, Jasjit Ahluwalia said: “We have a state-of-the-art testing facility for our solar panels, which we will produce five days a week. We have employed new staff from Jarrow, South Shields and Newcastle, and will take on more people as we increase our shifts.”

In the first manufacturing phase, Sunfest is hoping to produce 15MW per annum of module capacity from the plant in Jarrow, with plans to expand capacity over the coming years.

Council support from local development agency One North East persuaded Ahluwalia to locate the plant at Jarrow, South Tyneside. Commenting on the location of Sunfest Solar’s plant, Ahluwalia said: “We wanted to globalise our business and decided that the UK would be the best place in Europe to set up the factory.”

Sunfest Solar believes that the European market and, in particular, the UK market remain strong despite the current furore surrounding the feed-in tariffs. A company spokesman said: “The UK and European countries are investing a substantial amount in carbon reduction and the promotion of the environmentally-friendly, green industry and we at Sunfest wish to contribute our expertise to the fight against warming.”

Sunfest Solar will produce a range of multi-crystalline solar modules, ranging from 2Wp to 255Wp. All Sunfest panels are manufactured under ISO 9001:2008 certified conditions and conform to CE, IEC 61215 quality standards.