A Norfolk company moved a step closer to generating all its own electricity today when it opened a £2m solar array next to its factory.

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King’s Lynn Technologies said fixing the price it paid for energy would safeguard jobs and mean its Estuary Road site remained viable.

The array, which converts the sun’s energy into electricity via 5,000 photo-voltaic panels, will generate about a third of the firm’s power needs.

The remainder will be produced by a wind turbine, which will be installed next year. KLT’s electricity bills come to almost £700,000 a year.

Mark Littlewood, the firm’s managing director, said: “Energy costs keep going up and up, and sadly I don’t think that’s going to change in the long-term.

“As a business we’re determined to protect ourselves against that and renewable energy is the answer.

“It’s about protecting and growing businesses and jobs in King’s Lynn, not only at our plant but also in the supply chain.

“There are obviously also significant environmental benefits. Carbon emissions are lower, so it’s a bit of a win-win all round.”

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who unveiled a plaque to officially open the array, said he had first visited the site in 1982, when the company was called Porvair and Britain had a trade surplus.

“I’d like to congratulate you on what you’re doing, you’re a hugely innovative firm,” said Mr Bellingham. “To become energy self-sufficient is a huge advantage. It’s what we need in Norfolk. I’m a huge believer in micro-generation.”

KLT makes breatheable membranes which are used in everything from anglers’ coats to socks for soldiers, along with hi-tech ceramics on the Estuary Road site, which employs 150. Its turnover has increased by 50pc over the last four years, while 95pc of its products are now exported to countries as diverse as Russia and Algeria.

While energy from the sun and wind are free, the infrastructure has to be paid for – setting the cost of this against the 25-year lifespan of the equipment means the electricity they generate costs around what it costs from the grid today.

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