Solar panel company to expand in County Durham with £250,000 investment

Sep 29, 2020 | Business

Finance Durham Fund, which was established by Durham County Council and overseen by Business Durham, has invested £250,000 in Power Roll, a developer of ultra-low-cost and lightweight flexible film for energy generation and storage.

The investment through Finance Durham, which is managed by Maven Capital Partners (“Maven”), will support construction of a solar film pilot plant in County Durham, further improve the efficiency of Power Roll’s solar film technology and help commercialise its capacitor technology with its joint venture partner.

Headquartered in Sunderland, Power Roll has developed a unique, flexible, lightweight solar film capable of producing ultra-low-cost green electricity that is up to 20 times cheaper to make than existing flexible solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. Power Roll’s technology simplifies manufacturing by eliminating multiple, expensive process steps that other PV technologies require, and uses high speed roll-to-roll production processes. Power Roll’s technology was invented by its Chief Scientist Dr Alexander Topping, originally from Seaham, County Durham, and ex-Oxford University with over 25 years expertise in specialist coatings.

Power Roll’s film is suitable for non-load-bearing rooftops, building integration, transport, portable applications, off-grid projects and IoT sensors, and can also be used for energy storage and to manufacture capacitors.

Power Roll is pursuing an IP licensing model with manufacturing partners to accelerate deployment of its technology. In 2019, it announced its first joint venture with Deki Electronics, India’s largest manufacturer of capacitors, to produce capacitors and innovative storage devices for key Asian markets.

The solar panel and capacitor markets are large and growing due to the increasing global demand for renewable electricity and electronic devices. The global solar energy market is expected to reach over $220bn in 2026 with the thin flexible solar panel market expected to be worth $10bn by 2023.

Michael Dickens, Investment Manager at Maven, said: “Power Roll’s unique, low-cost technology could be truly disruptive in the global solar power and energy storage sectors, with green energy never having been more important than it is today. This is a great opportunity for the Finance Durham to support a local business that, with a strong scientific and management team at the helm, has an exciting future ahead of it.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The Finance Durham Fund exists to help businesses in our county to expand, safeguard jobs and create new and exciting opportunities for local people. By investing in Power Roll we can achieve this, while also helping to tackle climate change by enabling the creation of a solar film pilot plant here in County Durham. Reducing climate change is a key priority for us as a council and we are proud to support a business that is developing technology that will allow more people to access low cost green energy.”

Sarah Slaven, Interim Managing Director at Business Durham said: “It’s great Power Roll has chosen to expand their business into County Durham.  It is an excellent example of the kind of innovative and dynamic company Finance Durham was set up to help.  We look forward to helping it develop its new manufacturing plant in the county.  The investment will create new jobs in this exciting sector, supporting Business Durham’s strategy to deliver business and economic growth.”

Neil Spann, Managing Director, Power Roll, said: “The success of our funding round and the quality of our investors reflects the global commercial potential for our technology. Our investors are excited about the new markets we can exploit and disrupt. There’s huge potential for solar and energy storage in a vast range of new applications including non-loadbearing rooftops, building integration, transport, off-grid and even powering Internet of Things sensors.”