Dragon Peter Jones criticised for solar slating

Solar panel installers Ploughcroft Solar have secured investment from Dragons' Den stars Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis to expand the business - while fellow entrepreneur Peter Jones was criticised for saying solar was 'unaffordable'.

Founded by Chris Hopkins Ploughcroft Solar provides renewable energy technologies to home and business owners, through solar panels funded by through Feed-In Tariffs (FITs).

Managing director of Ploughcroft Solar, Mr Hopkins, appeared on Sunday night’s (July 31) BBC show Dragons’ Den to pitch for investment of £100,000 for a 10% equity share in the business.

Mr Hopkins nearly gained a clean sweep of offers from the Dragons, with just Peter Jones failing to make an investment offer.

Mr Jones revealed his scepticism for the market potential of the solar energy sector by saying that solar panels are ‘unaffordable’ for most people.

A comment which drew criticism from the renewables industry with National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies development manager, Rob Wellman, saying new government loan schemes for energy saving measures are helping home and business owners finance green projects in an affordable way.

Mr Wellman said: “When you look at the way fuel prices are going up it is obvious that more people will start to turn to more sustainable forms of energy.”

As a result of his pitch, Mr Hopkins successfully managed to raise the investment – despite being forced to part with a 25% stake in the business from Mrs Meaden and Mr Paphitis, who each took a 12.5% stake.

Hopkins said the money will be used to fund plans to open seven new Ploughcroft branches across the UK to complement its existing branches in Yorkshire and Humberside.

The academy currently has 14 training hubs across the country which offer training in environmental technologies with four more provisionally approved.

Carys Matthews

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