An Indian businessman who pioneered renewable energy technology in Asia is to create 60 jobs on Tyneside with the launch of a £5m-a-year solar panel manufacturing plant.
Jasjit Ahluwalia – a veteran of the solar power industry in his homeland – has opened a factory in Jarrow which he aims to use to target the entire European market for photovoltaic panels.
Sunfest Solar, based on the Royal Industrial Estate, is in the process of recruiting for 60 electrical engineers and technicians which will operate three production shifts at the plant.
After outlining plans to enter the European market, Mr Ahluwalia opted to set up the business in South Tyneside following a lengthy dialogue with now-defunct regional development agency One North East. It is understood that the agency advised Sunfest as it drew up its plans to enter the UK market and earmarked a North East base.
After registering his new UK entity last year, Mr Ahluwalia invested a seven figure sum in the preparation work needed to get the Jarrow factory units ready to go into production.
Sunfest will now make panels for both residential and commercial use in various European territories.
Mr Ahluwalia, whose wife Reena is also a Sunfest director, said: “We wanted to globalise our business and decided that the UK would be the best place in Europe to set up the factory.”