A TEES Valley firm has expanded into the booming renewable energy market on the back of a bumper year that have seen sales soar past the £1m mark.

Darlington-based Blackwell Heating & Plumbing will create new jobs as it branches out into the design and installation of ground and air source heat pumps, solar panels and biomass renewable energy systems.

The company, which currently employs around 20 people, will create five new jobs ahead of a predicted surge in trade as homeowners and businesses look to tap into financial schemes such as renewable energy Feed in Tariffs (FITs) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Over the last 12 months the companys annual turnover grew past £1m and the firm predicts that the year ahead to bring continual strong growth.

Blackwell will assist clients in reducing their carbon footprint and energy and heating bills as well as generating income for the energy they produce on their property through FITs payments and the soon-to-be-launched RHI scheme.

Despite Energy Minister Chris Huhne announcing a major cut in the incentives for larger commercial solar developments, the domestic market remains buoyant. A change to the domestic FiTs tariff is due to be announced at the end of the year and North-East renewables firms have urged the Government not to tinker too much with an industry which has the potential to create thousands of jobs across the region in the next five years. Andrew Thomas, who runs Blackwells with his wife Claire, explained why he had taken the plunge into the emerging sector. "The progression into renewable energy felt natural," he said. "With this new technology, not only are we helping to save the environment but we are also helping customers save money.

"Im confident by installing these newer technologies I can save every customer in every household money. It was hard work juggling everyday work with the renewable energy training, but I'm sure it will pay off because theres no doubt that green energy is the future."

Blackwell currently employs around 20 staff and has large contracts with hotels and pub chains and also recently expanded to offer complete bathroom design and fitting, central heating systems and fireplaces.

For more information on the firm visit: www.blackwellheating.co.uk.