A RENEWABLE energy business has expanded its reach to Newcastle which could turn into a £10m industry in five years.
Darlington-based solar supplier Synergy Solar has made Tyneside its fifth franchise operation after Durham, Sunderland, Birmingham and Reading.
It is also planning have another seven branches by the end of the year including Hull and York, with negotiations taking place for a possible further site in Bournemouth.
The company started 15 years ago building conservatories but quickly moved into the renewable energy market in 2010.
As well as solar panels to generate electricity, the company also provides wind turbines, rainwater recovery systems and heat pumps.
Managing director Steve Gaylor said: “We expect to be a business with a turnover of a million this year and up to £10m in five years. We are rolling out a franchise system in different parts of the county and we had substantial interest. We provide the equipment at competitive prices and we charge a management fee of 4% on the turnover of a franchise business.”
The Government is cutting the solar tariff from 43p per kilowatt hour to 21p in early March. It is also consulting on further cuts in July and October .
But Gaylor said : “I think this has muddied the water and caused a lot of confusion but it is true that solar equipment has come down in price, it used to cost up to £20,000 for a system, now it can be bought for between £6 and £8,000 which is cheaper than a car.”
Synergy Solar largely supplies and installs technology for domestic projects but is currently planning to increase its business in the commercial sector, having recently completed work for Sunderland Marina.
The new branch in Newcastle will initially employ six people with more jobs likely to be created as the business is scaled up in the coming months and years.
Franchise owner Lawrence Winship joins the business after almost 25 years in power generation and electrical construction. But the government maintains the changes will not damage the industry.
Climate change minister Greg Barker said: “Instead of a scheme for the few, the new improved Feed-in Tariff scheme will deliver for the many. Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than originally projected by 2015 which is good news for the sustainable growth of the industry.
“I want to see a bright and vibrant future for small scale renewables in the UK.”