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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


Media contact:
Contact Mike Parker of Stride PR on 0191 383 0960 or

Notes for editors:

NETPark Net is a virtual innovation network for companies operating or planning to operate within the Science, Engineering and Technology sectors.

It provides companies with direct access to online collaboration and business development tools as well as business support services including access to expertise, market intelligence, innovation management, tenders and opportunities as well as one-to-one clinics, workshops and events, and a virtual office facility. NETPark Net allows science and technology companies to access the innovation support offered by the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The project is part financed by the European Union’s ERDF Competitiveness programme 2007-13, securing £0.22m of ERDF investment through the Regional Development Agency One North East.  The ERDF programme is bringing over £250m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.  This project has received funding from Durham County Council through County Durham Development Company.

NETPark – the North East Technology Park - is located in Sedgefield, County Durham. It is North East England’s premier science, engineering and technology park for the commercialisation of cutting edge R&D, where companies lead the way in developing world-class technologies, creating new products and new markets.

  • The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 for North East England is managed by One North East on behalf of the European Commission, national government and regional partners.

  • ERDF 2007-13 is focusing on:
    Innovation – promoting science, technology and innovation in businesses and institutions across the region.
    Enterprise and business support – encouraging more people to start up in business, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, and helping established businesses develop, grow and innovate.

  • More than £300m ERDF investment is available for the region from 2007-13.  ERDF investment is limited to 50% of total eligible cost and must be matched by other public and private sources.  For every pound of ERDF investment, regional partners lever in another pound for the key priorities of innovation, enterprise and business support.

  • The programme is underpinned by the three important cross cutting themes of environmental sustainability, equality of opportunity and sustainable communities.

County Durham Development Company is the innovation and strategic investment arm of Durham County Council, responsible for maximising the positive economic impact of the knowledge-driven economy in County Durham for the benefit of the people and businesses of County Durham. CDDC is responsible for managing and promoting NETPark.