terabase energy, bill gates, breakthrough energy ventures, solar energy, solar panels

A California startup specializing in automating solar panel installation raised $44 million in funding from several investors.

A three-year old solar technology startup has been backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, among other investors. Terabase Energy is a solar technology company based in Berkeley, California, that specializes in the automation of solar panel installation.

According to its LinkedIn page, Terabase Energy’s mission is “to reduce the cost and increase the scalability of solar by building an interconnected digital and automation platform” used to develop, construct, and operate utility-scale PV power plants. On Tuesday, the company took to Twitter to announce that it had raised $44 million in Series B funding co-led by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, and SJF Ventures, among other existing investors.

Terabase Energy Looking to Develop More Solar Technology Software

Terabase Energy’s total funding has risen to $52 million following the support of its new investors. Now, the California-based solar technology company is looking to use the funds to scale up its system for mass installation of solar panels and bring down the cost of developing utility-scale solar projects, Bloomberg reported.

Terabase Energy currently offers software to design solar panels and improve efficiency amidst changing weather conditions. The company’s co-founder and CEO explained that there are existing methods in automating or digitizing the steps involved in solar construction and deployment; however, Terabase Energy automates the entire process.

Campbell remarked that while the solar industry has “come a long way,” many of the project development methods being used today are still “manual.” This is where Terabase Energy comes in.

How Does Terabase Energy’s Automation Work and What Issues Does It Address?

Initially, Terabase Energy would set up a pop-up factory within the worksite. Here, robotic arms attach solar panels, which each weigh nearly a hundred pounds, are attached to a solar tracker. The robot does this every 20 seconds, ensuring that the panels are attached to a steel structure that rotates these panels towards the direction of the sun.

The entire steel structure is then transported to the solar array on special vehicles. While these are not yet automated, Campbell said Terabase Energy is also already looking to develop an autonomous version.

Carmichael Roberts, who co-leads the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy remarked that Terabase Energy’s automation processes can help with staffing problems, especially when workers are unwilling to set up solar panels under the hot sun. He added that the issue had been persistent even before the unemployment rate fell very low.

Carmichael added that workers no longer “want those jobs,” causing a “bottleneck” in solar companies’ abilities to deploy quickly. The solution was to leverage automation, just as Terabase Energy does.

In a PRNewswire press release, Carmichael expressed excitement that Breakthrough Energy was getting to work with Terbase Energy to “decarbonize” by financially supporting the startup in its Terawatt-scale deployment of solar panels.

Terabase Energy’s Intersect Power, said through its CEO Sheldon Kimber that they were hopeful that deploying the Terabase platform could help solve the climate crisis sooner.

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