My name is David Mack. Alongside my three brothers, I grew up on our family farm in North Norfolk. We run AF Member Solar Farm Cleaning Ltd, an international solar panel cleaning specialist.
What has been the main driver for change?
To provide additional income to the family business using our existing skill sets. We recognised the opportunity to provide solar farm operation and maintenance services as a result of knowledge acquired from our experience in agriculture and renewable energy, after developing solar farms on our farm and others across the UK through our sister company Genatec Ltd. During this time we realised that regular maintenance of solar plants was going to be essential to ensure their ongoing performance and this led to us forming Solar Farm Cleaning Ltd.
Although cleaning is our core activity, we also undertake land management services, such as mowing and spraying, and site inspections. Genatec Ltd continues to identify wind and solar sites and help landowners develop their potential.
Describe the main steps you are taking?
We started by speaking to contacts within the solar industry and negotiated our first contracts with many of them. From there we grew our network and client base through word of mouth. Because it was a new and immature industry at that point, demand and hence opportunities were there.
We researched the machinery we needed and found equipment which we thought was the best at the time. From there we have developed both machinery and processes to become an effective and efficient business. We’re now active in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
What are the results of the changes you have made?
I’m not saying it’s been an easy business to grow and run. We’ve had to be innovative and responsive to clients’ needs as well as adapt our processes to stay ahead of the competition.
We have developed software systems to help increase productivity and help us run our business efficiently. We have also built software to provide greater value to our clients beyond a straightforward cleaning service. We’re constantly looking to stay ahead through innovation and by providing additional benefits and services to our clients.
Being in the fast-growing renewable energy industry is very exciting and the business and its client portfolio have grown rapidly over the last five years. We’re hoping that, for example, the challenges and responses regarding climate change and shift to renewable energy will create exciting times in the future.
How has AF helped you?
It’s been extremely useful being part of AF. AF procures various goods and services for our operation across the UK. Fuel typically being the biggest one. Having AF available to our teams operating across the country and to our office staff has proven to be very helpful and convenient for our company.
It has also been extremely useful receiving AF’s email updates, especially at the moment on fuel price increases. It has given us the advanced warning we need so that we can adapt to cope with the extreme changes that are currently happening.
We’re hoping to grow the business to gain market share within Europe and the United States and I’m actually in Charlotte, North Carolina at the moment meeting clients and partners.
We currently provide approximately 40% of the UK’s solar farms’ cleaning requirements. We want to achieve a similar market share elsewhere in Europe and the US, where we are co-owners of a solar panel cleaning business. We’re essentially providing all of the training, the machinery, expertise and the software systems and our US partners will run the business on a day-to-day basis. Once we’ve perfected that model we may look to roll out into other countries. And we intend expanding the company into any country that has a substantial amount of utility-scale solar farms.
The growth of solar farms globally at the moment is absolutely colossal. Especially now with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, there’s a huge focus on providing local, sustainable, green energy.
It’s certainly a good time to be involved in the renewable energy sector!