Terabase raises US$25 million in funding for automated solar panel manufacturing

Terabase claims that its automative processes can double the producitivity of solar panel manufacturing. Credit: Terabase

US energy company Terabase Energy has raised US$25 million in its latest funding round for its terafab field factory, a project which aims to increase the number of automated processes involved in solar module production.

The terafab system consists of a solar PV panel manufacturing plant of the same name in California, on which Terabase completed construction in May this year. The company dubbed this plant a “factory to make factories,” and noted that the latest round of funding will go towards “the commercial scale-up” of the terafab system, and the successful deployment of automated processes in the solar sector could raise optimism about the future of automation in solar power.

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“The sustained financial backing we’re receiving is representative of the cross-industry enthusiasm surrounding Terabase’s mission,” said Terabase CEO and co-founder Matt Campbell, speaking about growing interest in automation in the solar industry.

“This funding will enable us to expedite the scaling of terafab production and will ensure that we are equipped to meet the rising demand effectively as we deploy terafab.”

Terabase’s long-term goal is for the Terabase plant to produce further factories, and the company expects this second generation of factories to produce up to 10GW of solar panels per year. One factory involved in the process of automated solar panel manufacturing has also been tested in Texas, with a terafab plant producing 10MW of solar panels earlier this year.

Terabase has sought to implement a number of technologically innovative processes across its operations to improve efficiency and safety. The company claims that by using automated manufacturing processes, rather than relying more extensively on human workers, the panel manufacturing process can be two times more efficient than other manufacturing operations.

This could help lower the levelised cost of electricity across its facilities, which may in turn lower the up-front costs for those at various points of the solar supply chain.

US venture capital firm Fifth Wall provided the majority of the funding, alongside EDP Ventures, the investment arm of Portuguese electric utility Energias de Portugal and what Terabase called “existing investors”.

This is the latest encouraging round of financing for Terabase, following a US$44 million investment made by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and venture capital company Prelude Ventures last August. Sustained investment from influential groups in the renewables sector could be vital as Terabase looks to encourage further innovation in solar management.

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