We have this week completed the solar panel cleaning for British Gas Solar of 16,800 245W Sharp solar panels at the 4.1MW array at Toyota, Derby. The results from the solar panel cleaning were amazing. Our solar panel cleaners worked hard to ensure the standard of the solar panel cleaning was high, but also, the work was completed in less than two weeks, meaning minimal disruption for Toyota.
Clean Solar Solutions Ltd cleaned all 16,800 solar panels for Toyota and British Gas Solar. Around 60% of the site is visible here.
This was the very first clean on the Toyota solar farm since they were installed, so the solar panels were particularly dirty. Clean Solar Solutions Ltd, established by the same team behind All Around Property Cleaning Ltd, have been asked by British Gas Solar to clean the solar panels on an ongoing basis.
What benefit has our solar panel cleaning service brought to Bluefield LLP, Toyota and British Gas Solar? A recent study by researchers in the Netherlands shows that solar panels lose up to 7.4% of electricity generation in the first 12 months after installation from pollution alone. We would expect the Toyota plant to have lost at least 10% of its output in the 23 months since its install, judging by the picture below.
The dirt on these solar panels was likely to be reducing the efficiency of the panels by at least 10%.
By having their solar panels cleaned, Toyota will now produce more electricity and save more money off their electricity bill.
If the solar panels at Toyota were losing just 10% of their output, the array was very likely to be losing at least 1,260kWh of electricity everyday. This will have been hurting Toyota and British Gas Solar by knocking a large hole in their profit margin. By cleaning the solar panels, we have got them running back up to between 95%-100% efficiency. A 10% drop in power output means it would take Toyota and British Gas Solar a whole extra year to recoup their initial outlay!
The solar panels at the Toyota solar farm are owned by Bluefield LLP, an investment and asset management company whose main focus is large-scale solar energy infrastructure. Bluefield LLP purchased Toyota's solar farm at Derby from Centrica, parent company of British Gas Solar.
There are many UK records and firsts being accomplished on this groundbreaking project by Toyota, British Gas Solar, Bluefield LLP and ourselves.
Some Key Milestones
- Planning consent for a solar farm of this size granted in a record breaking 31 days.
- When built, it was the UK's largest solar panel array
- UK car industry's first ever large-scale solar farm.
- First solar partnership of its kind in the UK between Toyota and British Gas Solar.
- First cleaning of a solar farm of this size, one of the biggest in the UK.
The solar farm in Derby is the first to be installed by any UK car manufacturer and is the largest installed on the site of an industrial user. Toyota are making this and their solar farm site at Deeside an official 'Eco-plant'. Toyota have four others strung across the globe. Dave Chapman, Head of Facilities and Environment at Toyota says "Our aim is to produce Eco-cars in an Eco-plant with Eco-minded employees."
The solar panels were installed by British Gas Solar in the summer of 2011 and they also look after the maintenance of the array, which includes solar panel cleaning. We carry out all of the solar panel cleaning in the UK on solar farms and solar parks maintained by British Gas Solar.
British Gas Solar funded the £12.4m project, which covers about 90,000 sq.m. That's the equivalent to 4 & 1/2 football pitches! Despite its size, the solar farm is not a blight on the Derby countryside. In fact, the solar panels are so situated that they can only be seen when you fly out from East Midlands airport!
The solar panels will generate about 4,600,000 kWh of energy annually. What on earth does that mean? That's enough electricity to make about 7,000 cars at the Toyota plant each year. In normal man's terms, that is enough electricity to make 150,000,000 cups of tea annually!!!
Both Toyota and British Gas Solar benefit from the array financially. Toyota use the free electricity generated by the solar panels, saving them hundreds of thousands of pounds annually and British Gas Solar generate income from the Government-backed Feed-in Tariff. The initial outlay for the solar panel farm is expected to be recouped in approximately 10 years. From its install in July 2011 to June 2013, this Derby solar farm has produced a whopping 5MW of electricity!
The Bluefield-owned solar farm at the Toyota plant in Derby will continue to produce the maximum amount of electricity possible thanks to the ongoing maintenance from British Gas Solar and solar panel cleaning carried out by Clean Solar Solutions Ltd.