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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Renewable energy company plans to double Cumbrian workforce

A renewable energy firm has revealed plans to more than double its workforce on the back of an expected boom in biomass heating.

Bosses at EcoLogicLiving, in Carlisle, want to increase staff numbers from 14 to around the 30 mark as more people look to alternative ways to power their homes amid soaring energy costs.

Experts had predicted a slump in the renewables market after the Government slashed the subsidies it pays to people who fit solar panels last year.

But EcoLogicLiving owner Islam Pearson believes the industry is still in good shape and that Cumbria is leading the way.

“We’ve doubled the workforce in the last year, from seven to 14, and by 2015 we plan to have at least 37 people working for us.

“Although the tariff has been cut, solar still offers a very good return on investment.

“When it was announced in 2008, there was a gold rush, with lots of people putting up solar panels to cash in.

“But it wasn’t fair, people were getting too much and it had to change.

“The cut didn’t shock us like it did the big guys; we are chameleon-like and we are able to adapt.

“We are a solutions company, we never just push one type of product. Even in the solar boom, if it wasn’t right for someone, we would advise them to get something else.

“The next incentive from Government is the renewable heat incentive for biomass and things like heat pumps, where good returns can be made, better than solar in some cases. The focus on biomass will be very good for Cumbria, we can genuinely lead the way in this industry. People are still spending a fortune here on heating oil and LPG, so there is an obvious incentive there.

“Even without Government incentives, it makes sense to go for renewables rather than oil or fossil fuels.”

Mr Pearson, 37, and wife Judy launched EcoLogicLiving in 2009, from their home at Sprunston, Durdar.

It quickly grew and moved into a unit on the Harraby Green business park.

The company has just finished its most prestigious contract to date – fitting solar panels to the Sands Centre and the Civic Centre for Carlisle City Council.

Over 25 years, it is expected the scheme will bring savings of £266,000.

“We have done bigger jobs in the past, but nothing as prestigious as this,” said Mr Pearson. “For me, it’s great have done this work on two such prominent buildings in my home town.”

Brought up on the family farm at Carlisle Airport, Mr Pearson nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age.

At 16 he set up as a fitness instructor and later travelled extensively, opening up a string of diving centres.

On his return to Cumbria he went into property, but left the industry just as it crashed and entered renewables.

“We planned to be turning over £500,000 by year three, but we achieved that in the first year,” he said,

“By year three we had a turnover of £1.7m. The growth has been beyond our expectations.

“I think the industry is entering a really exciting phase and I’m glad to be involved in it.”

EcoLogicLiving can design, supply and install heat-pumps, biomass boilers, solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, heat recovery, underfloor heating and rainwater harvesting.

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