Enterprising Barnsley welcomes 300 new jobs
18 November 2010
A South Yorkshire solar power business is so successful it is planning to create 300 jobs in the New Year as it expands to cope with demand.
Nationwide Solar and its sister company, A Shade Greener, which have been helped by Enterprising Barnsley, have grown from eight to 120 employees in just over a year – and now both desperately need more staff.
The two companies are guaranteeing an interview to anyone suitable who lives nearby and has been unemployed for three months or more.
The companies were launched in October 2009, but only fitted their first panels in April this year under the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme. Between them they are now thought to have installed around ten per cent of the total photo-voltaic solar panels in the country – all within an hour’s drive of their headquarters at Tankersley, near Barnsley.
The news has been welcomed by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme which supports businesses in the region with the potential to grow.
Angela Pedley from Enterprising Barnsley, said; “We are delighted to hear about the possibility of so many new jobs with a company we have been working with.
“It just shows that renewable energy is a real growth industry and it is great news for the region.”
Nationwide Solar director, Russ Cowan, said: “Enterprising Barnsley’s help and assistance has been invaluable. They have recognised that renewable energy is a growth industry.”
Enterprising Barnsley has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also runs networking events and provides office space throughout the borough.
Electricity generated by the solar panels can be used by the property owner, with any excess fed back into the National Grid. The electricity companies pay a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT), even for the electricity used by the owner, although that it is at a slightly lower rate. The owner will also see their electricity bill reduced by about half.
Nationwide Solar supplies solar electric systems to the domestic and commercial market and are now moving into the public sector. The property owner can pay all or part of the installation cost.
A Shade Greener has provided free solar panels to more than 1400 suitable homes, with plans to roll out the scheme to 6,000 homes. The cost is met by the company, which gets the FITs, but the home owner gets the free electricity.
Russ said: “We are trying to make South Yorkshire the renewable energy capital of the UK. So we can do our bit for the environment and create jobs. It is a win-win situation.”
Nationwide Solar are one of the first companies to offer their services to schools, with subsidies of up to 75 per cent available in some circumstances. Norfolk Community Primary School, in Sheffield, is the first to have the firm’s panels fitted.
Christine Palmer, school business manager, said: “Our school has green flag status indicating a range of ecological initiative designed into the building or adopted by us.
“Choosing to have a photovoltaic system installed was a natural next step in maintaining the interest of our pupils in energy conservation.”
The company is also negotiating with nine other schools and a local authority about social housing.
To cope with the extra work the two firms plan to interview anyone considered suitable, with the aim of taking on the first of the 300 in the New Year, said Russ.
“We are taking on new staff virtually on a weekly basis, just to keep up with demand - four started this week alone
“Many of those we have taken on had been made redundant from the construction industry, such as roofers and electricians. But we also need everything from sales staff to surveyors.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, University Campus Barnsley and Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support.
Angela Pedley, of Enterprising Barnsley, can be contacted on 01226 787534