Sunny disposition gives MK key solar power advantage

The team at Fronius UK's team in Milton Keynes
The team at Fronius UK's team in Milton Keynes

AN Austrian family firm decided to put its UK headquarters in Milton Keynes because of its key location on the ‘southern arc’ for the sun’s maximum rays.

Despite March temperature records being set in Scotland, the place which receives the most solar power in the UK is south of an imaginary looping line across the south of England.

“Milton Keynes is slap bang in the middle of the solar arc,” said Gary Hills, MD of Fronius UK. “Milton Keynes is well located between Oxford and Cambridge and close to junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.”

One part of what Fronius, in Maidstone Road, Kingston, does is distribute and provide technical support for its solar inverters. They are the bits of kit that Mr Hills, who has an Aussie accent after 25 years in the southern hemisphere, describes as ‘the transformer for the train set.’

Although Fronius UK, a subsidiary of the £500m turnover group, has been in its base since 2009, it held an official opening on Wednesday (March 28).

“We had to focus first on the business before holding the official opening,” said Mr Hills. Fronius invested £1million on its 38,000 sq-ft unit and has signed up to a 10-year lease.

The company sees growth in solar power, despite reductions in government subsidies, once ‘cowboy’ operators have disappeared.

But Fronius also is well known for its innovative welding techniques and innovations and intends to grow this side of the business in the UK.

Fronius owns in the region of 730 patents.

The company has grown from 15 employees last year to 43 now and has plans to increase this 60-65. The company’s human resources strategy is to employ people and then train them up. Mr Hills said this would include apprenticeships.

The company has its own computer game-like ‘virtual welding’ machine that allows trainees to practice their skills before being let loose on expensive metals.