One of the UK’s largest solar panel cleaning companies has significantly improved its productivity with the purchase of new specialist machinery.
St Agnes-based A Cleaner Generation, launched in 2014 by Paul Wheeler and Chris Pound, initially cleaned solar panels locally in Cornwall and gained expertise through working in partnership with Natural Generation for a German client.
Last year the company cleaned over a million panels nationwide, making it one of the largest solar cleaning facilities in the country.
The specialist company is continuing to expand having recently invested in specially designed equipment that allows it to more effectively clean more solar panels. The investment has been made possible through a loan from local responsible finance provider, SWIG Finance, with match funding from the Business Investment for Growth 2 (BIG2) grant fund.
Using deionised water through poles with solar brush heads, the company previously conducted all of the cleaning by hand, bringing on temporary workers to help on some of the larger farms. Wheeler said: “We are able to clean around 25,000 by hand in a week with our current team. We recently finished a contract in Swindon which has close to 250,000 panels and we had to hire 15 temporary workers over three weeks.
“Inevitably the quality of cleaning by hand can vary so by investing in this new machinery we are going to not only be more efficient and productive but also ensure we are providing a better quality of service to our customers.”
The new machinery mounts onto the side of a tractor and functions in a similar way to rollers in a car wash. A Cleaner Generation had the machine made to its requirements by the manufacturer, meaning it is able to use the machine with a multitude of vehicles depending upon ground conditions.
Currently A Cleaner Generation has three employees and the business now plans to take on two more thanks to the new investment. Wheeler added: “The machinery cost £45kand we needed support to help pay for it before it started to pay for itself. We received a loan of £27.5k from SWIG Finance matched with a grant of £18k from BIG2 which has been instrumental in us being able to take this step.”
SWIG Finance MD, John Peters, said: “There is a high demand for the services that A Cleaner Generation provides and they have some excellent existing contracts.
“It’s clear that this machinery really will make a big difference to their business and allow them to continue to grow and we wish Paul and Chris every success in the future.”
BIG2 programme manager, Anna Staevska added: “It is great that we have been able to work together with SWIG Finance to support the growth of local businesses. Programmes like BIG2 and lenders such as SWIG Finance are vital in helping businesses access the finance they need to invest in their plans for growth. These investments allow companies to break into new markets, create new innovative products and realise their vision.”