Power Roll is creating a first of its kind solar film manufacturing facility at a County Durham business park as part of its expansion plans.
The company, which is currently based in Washington, is moving its manufacturing and head office to the new unit at Jade Business Park in Murton, County Durham.
Jade Business Park is a 55-acre employment site next to the A19, close to Dalton Park, and is set to provide up to 1 million sq ft of new employment space and over 2,500 jobs.
The park is owned by Durham County Council, managed by Business Durham, the council’s business support service and developed by Highbridge Properties PLC.
Power Roll has developed an ultra-low cost and lightweight flexible solar film for energy generation, which can be installed in places that are unsuitable for traditional silicon panels, such as non-loadbearing rooftops, off-grid applications, providing portable power and many other uses.
According to the International Energy Agency, to achieve net zero by 2050, globally, we need to deploy four times as much solar as we have today; and this additional capacity needs to be installed before 2030. Power Roll’s solar film will help enable businesses and governments to meet this need, alongside a mix of other technologies.
The company was looking to invest in a new pilot solar film manufacturing unit which required suitable space with other requirements and Business Durham helped it find a unit at Jade Business Park.
Power Roll received an initial £250,000 investment from Durham County Council’s Finance Durham Fund to invest in its new manufacturing site. The County Durham Growth Fund also provided a grant of £120,000 to support the expansion of the company at Jade Business Park and as a result of the overall investment 31 highly skilled jobs will be created.
Neil Spann, Chief Executive, Power Roll, said: “The new solar film pilot manufacturing plant is a significant milestone for us as we transition to the next phase of our journey to scale our business, and we’re excited to be moving to Jade Business Park. Establishing a cleantech business on the site of a former colliery symbolises the green energy transition that Power Roll is set to play a major part in.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet Member for Economy and Partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted to have helped secure Power Roll as the third tenant for Jade Business Park. As we continue to navigate the economic impact of COVID-19 it is particularly important to support businesses to grow and thrive, especially those that are at the forefront of new green technologies in line with our commitment to tackling the climate emergency, while supporting the economy by helping to create and safeguard jobs.
“Jade Business Park is the ideal location for growing businesses such as Power Roll, as it offers high-quality industrial units in a great location which enable companies to expand manufacturing and offer more and better jobs. It’s fantastic to see Power Roll joining Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems and CoreHaus in the first phase of the park, and we look forward to welcoming further businesses to this flagship site in the near future.”
Nick Atkinson, Director at HTA Real Estate, property agents for the park, said ‘These new high specification units at Jade Business Park are understandably popular because there is a shortage of good quality units available in the region. We have just three of the seven units remaining, from 11,200 sq ft up to 31,200 sq ft.’
Andrew Clark, Energy Programme Lead at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The UK government’s target to reach net zero by 2050 signals its commitment to green, sustainable forms of energy that protect the environment.
“Power Roll’s pioneering technology and expansion in the region is another example of a fantastic business in the North East leading the clean energy agenda and supporting the Government’s net zero ambitions. The energy sector in the North East has the potential to transform the region’s economy; bringing more and better jobs and further investment from both the public and private sector while solving global energy challenges.”
Jade Business Park has been built on the former colliery and coke works. It is located in a designated Enterprise Zone, with a rates benefit of up to £275,000 for occupiers.
The development of the new industrial units has been made possible by an investment of £14m from Durham County Council.
Additional support for highway and infrastructure works has come from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and the Highways Agency. It will help fund a programme of works to increase the capacity of the A19/A182 junctions serving the business park, which will allow for future growth.
The North East LEP funding came from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which supports major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.