MTI Partner Enters Renewable Energy Sector

UK early-stage specialist MTI Partners in early July led a GBP3.5 million (ecu 5.2 million) funding for Intersolar Group, the UK’s only manufacturer of photovoltaic components for solar energy production. The new capital will enable the company to triple capacity at its South Wales plant, giving Intersolar a leading international position among producers of thin-film silicon photovoltaics.

Because they look like ordinary tinted glass and can be produced in volume, thin-film silicon solar panels are generally regarded as more widely adoptable than other photovoltaic components. UK sales of Intersolar products for the home and garden reached GBP2 million last year, but were outstripped by export sales.

The company’s products are distributed internationally through retailers such as Carrefour, K-Mart and Wickes. The company also delivers power for industrial use to companies such as AT&T, MAN and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Global demand in the photovoltaic market grew 46% last year. Intersolar, which has 20 years’ experience in the solar electric power sector, already produces 8% of the world’s thin-film silicon requirement. Intersolar will use the new capital to increase photovoltaic cell production from 1.2 MWp (megawatts at peak output) to 3 MWp per annum over 18 months. This will rank the company second only to Sanyo, which supplies the bulk of its 7 MWp per annum output to the Japanese domestic renewable energy market.

MTI director Richard Ford said “The renewable energy sector has been one to watch for some time. We believe that the photovoltaic industry is now ready for dramatic growth, and Intersolar is well positioned to benefit”. Intersolar managing director Philip Wolfe said the solar electric power market at present is so dynamic that Intersolar expects demand for its product to overtake supply, even with increased output.

MTI Partners invested GBP1.5 million in Intersolar via its MTI3 Fund, alongside GBP1 million from Advent’s second Venture Capital Trust. A further GBP1 million in loan and lease finance completes the funding package.