NORTH Yorkshire gritter and snow plough manufacturer Econ Engineering has made a £220,000 investment in solar panels at its factory.

Econ has installed 800 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of its Ripon factory.

The technology is expected to lower the firm’s electricity consumption by about 15 per cent per year.

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Colin Trewhitt, Econ fabrication manager, said: “As a manufacturing business we have unavoidably high levels of power consumption and the investment in solar panels will pay for itself in only a few years.

“We pride ourselves on our pioneering approach to technology, which enables us to stay ahead of the game when it comes to developing state of the art winter maintenance vehicles. We could see all the advantages of solar photovoltaic technology and were keen to go for it. We are also reducing the business’ carbon footprint, which is good for the environment as well as for Econ’s bottom line.”

Econ Engineering has earned a reputation for its environmentally efficient, high-tech winter maintenance vehicles, which are precisely calibrated and linked to vehicle tracking technology to ensure that salt used by the gritters is not wasted and does not pollute the environment.

The firm is one of Ripon’s fastest growing employers, with a workforce of almost 200 people.

The solar panels have been supplied and installed at the Econ factory by sustainable technology firm G&H Sustainability.