Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid and prospective Northfield MP Rachel Maclean officially opened a new prototype line for producing the next generation of photovoltaic ribbon at Strip Tinning.
The recently appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Ms Maclean were given an insight into the ‘European first’, which has the potential to create 300–750MW of the critical interconnecting material used in solar panels across the globe.
The company, which employs 39 people at its Arden Business Park facility, said that if the prototype line goes to plan, it will invest a further £500,000 into fully automating it for volume production capable of generating €6m of additional export sales and creating ten to fifteen new skilled jobs.
Commercial director Steve O’Connor said it was rare for an SME to secure a European Commission ‘FP 7’ grant. “We have had to bring together a real cross-European partnership, featuring material and engineering companies in Austria, Italy, Sweden and metallurgy specialists at the University of Birmingham,” he added.
“The prototype line we have developed allows us to create solar ribbon that is placed as interconnectors between the blue wafers used in photovoltaic panels you see fitted to a wide range of premises across the world.
“There is a demand for these wafers to be thinner and subsequently this can lead to them breaking easier. What this state-of-the-art line gives us is the opportunity to test technology that we believe will produce softer ribbon with advanced performance characteristics.”
Managing director Richard Barton said that while automotive remained Strip Tinning’s largest market, the new prototype line had the potential to accelerate the firm’s expansion into the solar panel sector.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.