WORKERS at a Flintshire steelworks are celebrating an £11m contract extension which will help secure 700 jobs and create 20 new ones.
Tata Steel Colors and Dyesol Solar Steel this week announced a decision to expand their joint photovoltaics development, based at the PV Accelerator Centre in Shotton.
The move will see the workforce increase from 30 to 50 people as activity on a groundbreaking roofing product is scaled up.
The first phase of the scheme, which will be completed in June, has seen the companies unite to create the world’s first continuously manufactured dye sensitised photovoltaic product.
This dye will be used to coat steel wall and roofing panels for sale to the construction, manufactured goods and domestic appliance sectors.
Bosses said they are targeting the ‘multi-hundred billion dollar roofing market’ with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government-funded SBEC (Sustainable Building Envelope Centre), which provided a £5m technology grant.
Overall, investment in the scheme will reach £20m.
Peter Strikwerda, managing director of Tata Steel Colors, said: “This project forms a key part of the Tata Steel strategy to develop a new range of functional coated steel products.
“It has met the objectives originally set for this phase.”
He added: “This expansion takes the project from its laboratory and pilot line phase into a pre-industrialisation phase.
“We will significantly accelerate technical progress with the objective of establishing a product, process and supply chain that can be successfully commercialised.”
North Wales AM Mark Isherwood was thrilled at the news, and said: “This announcement is welcome news for both Shotton and the regional economy, a vote of confidence in the local workforce and new technology at a time when we need private sector investment to drive economic recovery in Wales.”
A demonstration facility for the roofing product is scheduled for release in the near future, and will show that Tata in Wales is ‘leading the world in high tech, low energy building product innovation’, the company said.
In October Tata workers were dealt a blow as bosses announced they were to axe 180 jobs.
Formerly Corus, the company was renamed and re-branded last September.