Sharp, Europe’s largest solar panel manufacturer is extending production facilities in its factory in Wrexham bringing the total number of employees to 1,100.

An additional 3,000 panels will be produced at the factory each day, doubling Sharp’s annual production capacity to 500 MW per year by March 2011 – enough to power over 170,000 homes in the UK.

Sharp’s head of international sales, Andrew Lee, said: “This job creation proves that there is an appetite for solar technology in the UK and that this sector has huge growth potential, bucking the trend in the wider economy.”

The UK is one of the world’s fastest growing markets for solar panel technology. Sharp says research from AMA forecasts that the UK will progress to around 180,000 installed solar panels each year in 2015 and in excess of 300,000 by 2020.

Climate Change secretary Chris Huhne welcomed the investment. He said: “This is excellent news for the solar industry and for Sharp, which shows that green growth is a vital part of our economic recovery.

“Since feed in tariffs began, the scheme has stimulated a market in solar panels which has seen around 19,000 installed to date.”

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie