Member Article

Innovation Programme is a ray of light for Solar Tracker development

A North East company specialising in renewable energy products has developed a unique solar device, with support from the Innovation Programme, to plug a gap in the market brought about by changes to planning regulations.

Hadrian Electrical Engineering, a Hexham based company established in 2010 to install and service wind turbines and solar products, recognised a market opportunity for an innovative solar tracking system that would enable the company to expand its client base nationally. The company directors had previously operated in the dairy and refrigeration services industry before diversifying in response to the changing needs of the farming community.

The idea for the small ground-mounted Solar PV Tracker, the first of its kind to be developed in the UK, was borne out of changes to planning regulations which allowed tracking units of 3m sq and smaller to be installed in homes and businesses, without the need for planning permission.

Working in partnership with Ron Jamieson, a former CEO of the Resource Centre for Innovation and Design (RCID) at Newcastle University and a specialist in product development, Hadrian Electrical Engineering approached the North East Business and Innovation Centre’s (BIC) Innovation Programme for support in accessing funds to progress the design and development of their product idea.

Doug Martin from Hadrian Electrical Engineering, said: “We picked up on the changes in planning legislation and saw a real opportunity to develop a small solar tracking product here in the UK which could be accessible to both domestic and commercial users. With an already established network of distributors and a clear gap in the market for our product, we were confident that there would be a real opportunity for our Solar PV Tracker.”

Through the Innovation Programme Hadrian Electrical Engineering was able to access funding towards product design and prototype development utilising Mr Jamieson’s expertise. The company continues to access support and guidance through the Innovation Programme as it prepares to go into production.

Doug added: “The support we had from the Innovation Programme was really helpful. We were able to access valuable funds through the scheme that enabled us to kickstart our product development plans and to capitalise on the market opportunity which I believe has huge potential.”

As a result of the success of this project a new company was formed between Doug Martin and Malcolm Archer of Hadrian Electrical Engineering Ltd and Ron Jamieson specialising in solar tracker sales and development. Tracksun Ltd is now operating from the same site as Hadrian Electrical Engineering.

Chris Hylton, business and technical consultant for the Innovation Programme at the North East BIC, said: “Hadrian Electrical Engineering is a perfect example of how a business can unlock its potential by embracing innovation. The company did this successfully the first time around when it diversified from its agricultural services operation and moved into the renewables sector, and we’re delighted that with the support of the Innovation Programme, the company has been able to build on this success by bringing to market their unique solar tracking product, fully developed here in North East England.

“I hope even more businesses tap into the support available through the Innovation Programme to help them to do something new, different or operate more smartly; making a positive difference that could ultimately result in the business being more competitive or even experiencing a growth in profits.”

The Innovation Programme utilises £724,000 of ERDF investment and is part financed by the European Union’s ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 to promote a step change in the region by encouraging North East Businesses to unlock their innovative potential.

To find out more about the Innovation Programme or to arrange a meeting please contact the team on 0191 516 6021, emailinnovation@ne-bic.co.uk or visit the website www.ne-bic.co.uk

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section

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