AR Power has the energy to grow

A leading designer and supplier of renewable energy solutions is boosting investment in the North East following its best year to date.

Advanced Renewable Power (AR Power)’s journey from setting up to becoming a leading light in its field has been just as turbulent as the industry in which it operates.

Founded by husband-and-wife Maria and Mark Dunville in 2011, the company was an early adopter of solar energy and battery storage, growing rapidly before the Government reduced solar scheme funding in 2015.

“It has been a real story of adversity,” Maria recalls. “We started out from a small office above Tup Tup Palace in Newcastle before moving to space in South Tyneside, where we grew to a team of 10.

“Everything was going so smoothly but it really pulled the rug from under our feet when the government funding stopped to subsidise businesses switching to renewable energy. We’ve really had our peaks and troughs.”

Fast-forward seven years and the company is growing rapidly. A contract with Cumbria County Council kept the pair trading after the industry’s near-collapse and with conditions improving year-on-year, their resilience has helped rebuild the business and scale new heights.

Now employing 30 people, AR has become the region’s leading designer and supplier of solar PV and battery storage systems, helping businesses across the region and the Scottish Borders reduce their carbon footprint while slashing costs.

Underpinning this growth has been the ‘green rush’, with organisations the world-over embracing renewables to achieve Net Zero, as well as address soaring energy costs.

“We had a target of turning over £5million at the end of the financial year to April and we exceeded that after just six months,” Maria added.

“It’s got to a point where our orderbooks are filling up so quickly that we’ve got waiting lists just to send our designers out to investigate sites and see if projects are feasible. It’s astonishing to think where we are now when we look back to where we were seven years ago.”

One such project AR Power is leading on is the development of a 1.3megwatt rooftop solar development for the Peterlee factory of international furniture drawer manufacturer, BHK UK, which when complete will become one of the largest of its kind in the region. This installation, as well as all others, has been delivered by AR Power’s in-house installation teams to ensure that the highest quality solar system is handed over to the client. As a technical based company, AR Power takes great pride in their designs to ensure that each system specification meets the requirements of its customers.

The company is also continuing to invest in the region over the next year, following its move to a new facility on Parsons Industrial Estate in Washington, supported by the Business Investment Team at Sunderland City Council.

The business investment team worked with AR to find the right premises with the move providing more space for its growing team of 30 and its fleet of 11 vans, and enabling it to invest in the new technology required to bring new solutions to the market.

Maria explains: “We’ve just appointed a new management team and sales director and have invested in new software which will help us better execute works, which wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the move to our new site.

“We’ve also invested in new vans and brought in an experienced business mentor in Mitchell Smith to ensure that, as we continue to grow, we do so in a way that is sustainable and futureproofs us against any potential headwinds. It’s a really exciting time for the company.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “As a city which is being recognised globally for its efforts to tackle climate change, we couldn’t be happier to be home to businesses such as AR Power which are truly blazing a trail in the race to Net Zero.

“AR Power have shown incredible resilience in the face of adversity to overcome the hurdles they’ve faced and have shown the ingenuity required to not only overcome them, but to turn them into opportunities.

“We’re delighted to have supported them on their business journey and look forward to seeing them go from strength-to-strength as they continue to grow.”