North East firm to unveil European success story at solar conference

NORTH East-based renewable energy centre Narec will reveal details of its involvement on a new £6m, pan-European project at a major industry event next week.

The nationally-focused organisation, which pioneers clean energy technology, will tell market leaders from across the UK about its Europe-wide work at the Solar Flair 10 conference in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

The conference, organised by the County Durham Development Company (CDDC) will bring together key figures from the photovoltaic technology industry, as well as executives from industries that could play a lead role in the nation’s solar energy drive in the coming years.

Blyth-headquartered Narec has recently been enlisted to help develop several European projects that, when combined, are valued at over £20m.

The latest of these is a contract for its photovoltaic division to work on 20Plus ¬– a three-year project worth around £6m to nine project partners that span six countries.

Dr Alex Cole, business development manager specialising in PV technology at Narec, will give further details of the project at Solar Flair 10, as well as explaining his work with crystalline silicon PV technology.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Cole said: “In the 20Plus project, major European industry and research institutes have come together to develop the next generation of crystalline silicon solar cells with efficiencies over 20% and thicknesses less than 100 micro metres, thus reducing cell cost and PV energy payback time.

“Narec has been brought into this project because its excellence in cell processing and metalisation has been recognised. At the event I will be talking about crystalline based photovoltaic technology including concentrator photovoltaics.”

The 20Plus initiative is the latest in a long line of European projects to have drafted in the expertise of Narec recently.

Under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, also known as FP7, Narec is also involved in a £10m, five-year project to develop high-efficiency and intelligent PV modules.

It is also lead coordinator of the Snapper marine wave energy extraction project – worth £1.7m over two years – alongside an additional £3m solar panel initiative.

Dr Cole will be joined on stage at Solar Flair 10 by Professor Hari Reehal, of London South Bank University, who will jointly present information on the types of silicon technology that are currently available and discuss next generation technologies.

Solar Flair 10 will be held at Lumley Castle, County Durham on 8th and 9th of December.

Also represented at the event will be North East specialist glass manufacturer Romag, which  hit the headlines this month for providing solar panels for the largest privately owned solar electricity system in the UK.

The County Durham firm’s PV product, known as PowerGlaz, was installed on buildings at Worthy Farm, Glastonbury, helping to boost the green credentials of one of the world’s most renowned music festivals.

Other speakers at the event include representatives from the UK’s flagship printable electronics facility PETEC, based at NETPark in County Durham, and Alastair Wilson from the Electronics, Sensors, Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network (ESP KTN).

ESP KTN, which supports technology communities and aims to help achieve growth by bringing representatives of different strands of innovation together, will use the conference to set out a future strategy for the solar electricity market.

For more information or to register for one of the few remaining places at attend Solar Flair 10 please visit

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