A small cleantech firm in Surrey has secured a £4 million order to supply its technology to a projected 2.0 gigawatt solar facility in India, unlocking a major export opportunity with support from UK Export Finance (UKEF).
Gas Recovery and Recycle Limited (GR2L) is a micro-SME business which has developed, patented and exported cutting-edge technology to reduce the energy consumption, carbon footprint and cost of manufacturing solar panels.
Makers of solar panels use argon gas to purify silicon crystals which are then used in solar cells. This process requires vast amounts of argon, with some producers needing to ship in multiple tankers of the gas each day.
GR2L’s ArgonØ machinery is a world first which allows solar cell production – as well as other advanced manufacturing activities like microelectronics production, 3D metals printing and aerospace heat treatments – instead to recycle up to 95% of argon used.
GR2L had an opportunity to supply its argon recycling technology to Mundra Solar Technology Ltd to support a solar facility being built in Mundra, India.
At the same time, the Surrey SME needed to obtain payments in advance of making any deliveries to Mundra. To secure these payments, it had to issue a guarantee to assure the buyer that it could deliver, which would have meant making a cash deposit through its bank, Lloyds Bank. This however would have restricted the funds which the company needed for delivering the very same orders which it wanted to secure.
A £475,000 guarantee issued under UKEF’s Bond Support Scheme meant that GR2L could instead reclaim this portion of the cash deposit; this allowed GR2L to access crucial funds needed to deliver the Mundra contract and secure this major exporting opportunity.
Lisa Maddison-Brown, UKEF Export Finance Manager for Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex, said: “It is good news that GR2L, a micro-business which has the edge in international markets thanks to the strength of its patented UK technology, is now going even further with the backing of UK Export Finance.
“This announcement shows the value which we, working alongside financial institutions like Lloyds Bank, can bring to innovative companies – including small businesses like GR2L – to grow their global presence.”
Rob Grant, CEO and founder of GR2L, said: “With production of brand-new argon creating up to a tonne of carbon dioxide for every tonne of argon, our cutting-edge gas recycling technology helps solar facilities reduce their scope 3 CO2 emissions and produce solar fuel cells more efficiently.
“Building on our existing export successes, support from Lloyds Banks and UKEF helped us to secure this latest growth opportunity and further develop our established international presence. I look forward to commissioning our machinery by the end of 2023.”
Colin Walls, Regional Director, Trade & Working Capital and Lloyds Bank, said: “Gas Recovery and Recycling Ltd is exactly the type of business we want to see thriving. As a bank, we are committed to helping Britain prosper, so it’s fantastic to see the exporting ambitions of this firm grow with the support which we can offer alongside UKEF’s through our Working Capital facility. Their contract with Mundra Solar Technology Ltd is testament to that.”
UKEF’s role in unlocking this export opportunity delivers on the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy, supporting jobs in Surrey and helping expand opportunities for UK businesses.
GR2L’s export success story also underscores the value of the UK-India trading relationship and its role in promoting innovation – something which Prime Minister Rishi Sunk built on when he visited New Delhi for the G20 summit last week.