Pilot factory for solar film opens in UK

Pilot factory for solar film opens in UK

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Power Roll has opened a solar film manufacturing plant in the UK.

The pilot factory in County Durham is the first in the world to produce low-cost, lightweight, flexible solar film using Power Roll’s patented micro-groove technology.

The factory currently employs 34 highly skilled workers and  follows £5.8m of investment; taking the total to over £20m to fund the ongoing development and scaling of the technology.

Emerging solutions such as Power Roll’s flexible film will enable solar to be deployed more easily in the built environment, off-grid, on vehicles and other applications where traditional silicon solar panels are too heavy or too expensive to be used.

Power Roll’s approach to manufacturing solar film, which uses widely available materials and familiar production processes, yields a carbon footprint that is up to 20 times lower than silicon PV. When the film is produced at scale, manufacturing costs are forecast to be as low as a tenth of the cost of other flexible PV. Solar film can be deployed on warehouses and agricultural sheds where the roofs are not strong enough to bear the weight of traditional solar panels. Its light weight and flexibility also make it easier and cheaper to transport, bringing electricity to communities who may not otherwise have been able to access it

“Our mission is to dramatically increase the uptake of solar power, worldwide, and our new pilot manufacturing facility is a huge step towards delivering our vision. Our technology can make a significant contribution to tackling climate change while improving the lives of millions, worldwide, through access to low-cost clean energy,” said Neil Spann, chief executive of Power Roll (above, right, at the opening).

“Developed in the UK, our unique micro-groove design enables a manufacturing process that uses a roll-to-roll technique similar to many low-cost print processes in use today. We will fully demonstrate our technology at our Durham facility and will partner with large companies in the UK and overseas to globally scale up the solar film manufacturing. Countries around the world will be able to establish local manufacturing facilities to produce solar film for deployment in their own cities, towns and remote communities, creating thousands of green jobs,” he said.

Power Roll recently signed an agreement with UK-based Futurepump, a manufacturer of affordable, portable water pumps for agriculture. The partners will explore the use of Power Roll’s solar film with Futurepump’s irrigation pumping system, particularly in off-grid locations such as Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. The combination of lightweight solar film and highly efficient DC-based water pumps creates a water distribution system that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, adaptable, easy to use, and very low cost.

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