A £200,000 investment package is helping a young North East company take the development of its pioneering solar energy panel on to the next exciting stage. The Solar Angel, designed by Consett-based Natural Technology Developments, has been described as the future generation of solar technology.
UK Steel Enterprise is providing £100,000 of early-stage finance from its Equity Growth Fund, backed by the government’s Regional Growth Fund, and Northstar Ventures a matching £100,000 from the Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund, its second investment into the company. Funding specialist Paul Wigham from law firm Watson Burton advised on the deal.
Natural Technology Developments is run by Managing Director Paul Laidler (pictured centre), a chartered engineer with wide experience in manufacturing, product design and production, and Operations Director Jo Walters.
The company will create five new jobs to join the current team of three as it looks to exploit the range and commercial potential of its innovative product here and abroad.
Solar Angel has a unique cooling system that enables it to generate both electricity and hot water and independent testing has shown it to be four times more energy-efficient than stand-alone panels.
Peter Taylor (pictured right) of UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, said: “Solar energy is the fastest growing renewable technology worldwide and we are delighted to be backing an innovative North East company with a strong team that has developed breakthrough technology.
“This is the type of project that our early-stage finance is designed to support and our backing can also often help to unlock additional investment for companies that need working capital to grow and create jobs.”
Solar Angel brings the benefits of conventional solar panels and solar thermal products together, providing four times the energy and taking up less space as well as being lightweight, eco-friendly, easy to install and maintain with low running costs. Crucially it offers the highest carbon displacement of all the solar technologies.
Solar Angel is now in homes of all sizes, including the UK’s largest domestic PV-T installation, as well as in social housing developments and a range of commercial systems as the technology is ideal for applications with high, regular hot water and power needs.
The company is bullish about the government’s recent move to reduce support for renewables.
“With reductions in the subsidy levels for solar installations the emphasis will move away from a pure investment angle and decisions will be more about maximising carbon displacement and lowering energy bills,” said Paul Laidler. “With its dual generation technology Solar Angel makes a compelling case against the competition.
“Internationally, most countries are escalating their solar technology and the cost and carbon-saving benefits with Solar Angel are there for domestic, business and industrial users. We are confident that this new technology will see us leading the way in a worldwide market with massive potential.
“We are very pleased to have secured this investment from UK Steel Enterprise and Northstar Ventures as second stage funding. It is enabling us to seize opportunities at the right time, including developing a product tailored specifically to hot climates.
“Designing, developing and bringing a product like this to market demands a big investment of time, expertise and money and we appreciate the support from all our investors,” he added.
Stephen Price (pictured left), Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures, said: “We are really pleased to provide further support for Natural Technology Developments and its extremely passionate and dedicated management team. Solar Angel represents the next generation of solar technologies, demonstrating class leading performance in terms of economics and carbon reduction. It’s exciting to see a North East based company leading the way in this field.”
Picture (From left): Stephen Price, Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures, Paul Laidler of Natural Technology Developments and Peter Taylor of investor UK Steel Enterprise