Bill Gates-Backed Fund Invests in Automated Utility-Scale Solar Installation Platform

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  • Terabase Energy announced a $44 million Series B financing co-led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Prelude Ventures with additional investments by SJF Ventures and others, bringing the company’s total funding to $52 million. 
  • Based in Berkeley, Calif., the company was founded in 2018 by SunPower alums. Matt Campbell, a founder and CEO, took part in pv magazine’s 2021 roundtable, where he introduced the company’s approach.

“A lot of the work that needs to be done to optimize plant economics becomes pretty complex and computationally intensive, which lends itself to a modern software-based solution,” Campbell said.

Terabase is on a mission to use software and automation to reduce the cost and accelerate deployment of utility-scale solar. Its suite of software includes cloud-based apps for plant design, solar energy modeling—PlantPredict—acquired by Terabase from First Solar, and construction management. The company also offers power plant controls and SCADA solutions.

Founded by Bill Gates and backed by top business leaders, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) has raised more than $2 billion in committed capital to support companies that are leading the world to net-zero emissions. BEV seeks to invest, launch and scale global companies that will eliminate carbon emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. BEV invested in Terabase because it sees software and automation as the path to reducing costs and accelerating large-scale solar.

“In recent years, the solar industry has been focused on technological improvements of solar panels and other hardware components while the means and methods of engineering and construction have been largely unchanged. The way the industry designs and builds large scale projects needs to be rethought if we are to reach the very rapid growth required to meet net-zero goals,” said Carmichael Roberts, business lead of the investment committee of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “To enable the Terawatt-scale deployment of solar needed to decarbonize, we believe a breakthrough is needed to transform how PV power plants are built. Terabase’s solution has tremendous potential to reduce costs and accelerate the deployment of large scale solar, and we look forward to working with them on that mission.”

Terabase said its digital platform for managing the construction of a solar power plant from start to finish can transform the way solar plants are built. The automated factory can be set up at the site of the solar plant and can run 24/7 with its robotics-assisted workflow. Three months ago, the company announced the first commercial deployment in which robots installed 10 MW in a 400 MW project in central Texas.

“Terabase’s software and automation platform allows for developers and EPCs to effectively design and manage their projects from the point of land acquisition to rapid and high-quality construction through automation. This is an essential solution for solar to get to gigawatt-scale projects around the world,” said Tim Woodward, managing director of Prelude Ventures.

“This investment is validation of our vision for rapidly deploying solar at the Terawatt scale,” said Matt Campbell. “It took fifty years for the world to build the first terawatt (one million megawatts) of solar, but we need at least 50 additional terawatts built as quickly as possible to meet global decarbonization targets. This round of funding will allow us to continue to expand our team and make the investments necessary to achieve our mission.

Author: Anne Fischer

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.


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