A German renewables firm is hoping to create 60 jobs by 2012 after it chose Birmingham to expand its solar energy business into the UK.
Despite not being famed for its sunny skies, Juwi has chosen the city to host its UK subsidiary as it seeks to build solar power projects with a capacity of more than 60 megawatts in the next two years.
The new UK firm, Juwi Renewable Energies, is planning to work with land owners, farmers, communities and owners of large roof-tops to help them set up solar power plants, predominantly in the south of the country.
Daniel Parsons, Juwi Solar business development manager, said: “We see it as our target for the UK to provide renewable energy solutions which are not reliant on large-scale offshore and massive power plants, but in the regional and local space so that land owners and local communities can get a different income stream and also reduce their CO2 footprint.”
The firm decided to make the move into the UK market thanks to new legislation which rewards people for creating their own green electricity.
Known as feed-in tariffs (FITs), the incentive was introduced earlier this year and was modelled on a similar scheme in Germany which kickstarted wide-spread adoption of photovoltaics (PV) among households, farms and businesses.
Mr Parsons said: “The UK has a great potential for solar which is facilitated through the FIT, which came out in April. That turned the UK into an attractive solar market.
“The UK has natural potential similar to Germany and also an incentive system which provides the opportunity for businesses and the country to achieve its renewable energy targets.”
He said it was possible to replicate the success of the German experience with solar power in the UK.
“The ambitious renewable energy targets have to be achieved somehow and we believe it has to be something different to just CO2 capture and offshore wind parks.”
The firm settled on Birmingham for a number of reasons, Mr Parsons said, after considering other cities in the UK.
“It was important to be in the middle of the country, have very good road access and also, as we are a German company, to have good international airport links to Germany,” he said. “Additionally Birmingham is a great city with good support for business.”
The firm said it expected strong growth in the field over the next two years, and if conditions remain positive, it expects to create around 60 jobs in the fields of project development, site acquisition, and engineering as well as sales and marketing and other office functions.
Although Juwi’s focus is mainly on the south of the UK, the firm is not ruling out working on projects to the north of the city.
Mr Parsons said: “We settled on Birmingham because it’s possible to achieve a good business case north of Birmingham. We’re not talking about Aberdeen, but definitely a bit further north of Birmingham.