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Power Roll – A North East UK innovator revolutionising green energy production

A sparky collective of scientists, engineers and business professionals challenging the perimeters of solar energy technology.


Powerroll

Building on both the rich history of innovation in the North East, and a simple, yet clever idea discovered by a native of the area, Power Roll is taking on the challenge of green energy production with its unique solar film. Dr John Topping, the company’s Chief Scientist and was born and raised in Seaham, County Durham and took his experience in packaging and structural science to create what are called Microgrooves. 


 Microgrooves allow Power Roll to make a solar photovoltaic module within a plastic film using readily available materials and high-volume automated manufacturing processes.  We’ve taken inspiration from the same processes used to make crisp packets to revolutionise the approach to harnessing the sun’s energy. We are shining a light on the innovation abilities of the North East and striving to eliminate the economic and physical limitations of current solar technologies (of which there still are lots).


 Power Roll’s Solar Film is not only technically unique but are also unique in how they are manufactured. The fact is that more than 90% of current solar modules are made in Asia – and most of those in China. China has cornered the solar market with subsidised energy and labour, both of which are considered by many to come from suspect sources. Power Roll’s Solar Film needs relatively little energy to make, and production is almost fully automated. This enables Solar Film to be manufactured competitively from anywhere in the world, starting with County Durham in the UK.


 The ambition to bring solar PV production back to the UK, will unlock several UK strategic goals. The UK has a stated objective to decarbonise our energy systems by 2050 and to increase solar PV’s contribution from 15GW today, to 70GW by 2035. Buying the over 130 million solar modules needed to achieve this goal from Asia would transfer approximately £10-£15B pounds sterling overseas and make the UK more reliant on foreign supply chains. Power Roll want to bring the production of solar PV back to the UK. 


Power Roll has had tremendous support from investors, commercial partners, civic and regional business support groups, and future users of solar film to reach the stage where the company is planning on building the first commercial manufacturing plant for solar film.   The company has received good support from Business Durham, Maven, and Innovate UK, and have invested over £30M to undertake R&D and to set up their pilot plant near Murton and are preparing for scaling up over 2024-2025.


 The next stage of Power Roll’s development is the creation of the first commercial manufacturing plant which will launch in 2025 producing 100MW, or roughly 1M square meters of solar film.    The company intends to expand UK production up to 1GW or 6M square meters by 2028 and create a centre of excellence for solar film’s UK production and international expansion. The plant will employ over 200 people in highly skilled research, development and manufacturing jobs and create a supply chain focussed on UK suppliers and UK customers for solar film.


Power Roll are currently in the process of raising £50M of investment to fund their first Solar Film factory.   By producing the world’s first truly affordable lightweight and flexible solar PV solution, Solar Film will cover surfaces ranging from factory warehouses to remote villages in Africa, turning them into energy-producing engines making our world greener and cleaner.   Power Roll are expanding the world of solar PV with Solar Film.   Lightweight, Flexible, Robust, and most of all, affordable, Solar Film will generate power from the sun in all sorts of places, all over the world, without damaging the planet or breaking the bank. 


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