by Tina Olivero

    Gates-Backed Terabase Uses Robotic Innovations In Mega Solar Farm Construction

    A $44 million investment from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), founded and backed by Bill Gates, will help develop and deploy a solar energy solution through the solar startup Terabase Energy. A press statement released by PRNewswire reveals that the funding will go towards reducing the cost and increasing the scalability of solar through robotic automation. Robotic technology will be Terabase’s primary tool to develop, construct, and operate utility-scale photovoltaic power plants.

    The relationship between robots and solar energy

    The paths of solar energy and robots have converged in different ways to drive innovation. Emerging technologies such as robotic solar panel cleaning solutions and ground robots for solar farm maintenance demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between the two fields.

    Solar-powered robots find applications in large industries. For example, with the help of solar-powered robots, the security of property complexes is as convenient as ever. Because they dispense with the need for electrical wires, they can work autonomously as they patrol large areas through thermal cameras and motion detectors. The Knightscope Security robot, for instance, can provide enhanced security in vulnerable areas without the limitations of an electrical grid.

    These technologies do not just exist for large-scale utility purposes. A guide to going solar by Hoymiles notes that solar power helps homeowners achieve energy independence through clean, sustainable, and cost-effective energy. Solar technology allows homeowners to save money on utility bills, reduce their carbon impact, and drive up their property’s value. Because solar panels find applications even in individual homes, robotic technologies have been developed as solutions for autonomous solar panel maintenance. Helios, for instance, is a drone and robot combination that autonomously cleans solar panels. It uses sensors to apply water and UV light to dirty spots. This kind of automated technology helps maintain panels for more prolonged use.

    Terabase’s robot-led solar panel mega farm

    So what better way to maximize solar’s potential than by constructing solar farms? This is the premise of Terabase’s vision to build a terawatt-scale solar farm using robots. Matt Campbell, co-founder, and CEO of the company believes that the $44 million investment validates the company’s vision to deploy solar as quickly as possible to meet global decarbonization targets. In line with this vision, Terabase has built a digital platform to manage the entire project cycle life of utility-scale solar. The company is transforming how solar power plants are produced through a construction automation system.

    Now, with the use of robotic arms in their automated, on-site factory, they can lift and attach large solar panels to sun trackers. Without extensive human labor, they can accelerate plant construction while cutting costs and ensuring a higher build quality. A robotics-assisted workflow can also enhance worker health and safety by minimizing the extensive human labor of lifting heavy panels and steel components in difficult weather conditions. Robots then simplify the installation and maintenance of solar farms. Their use can incentivize the adoption of solar technology in both small and large-scale applications.

    Bill Gates’ climate change funding

    Terabase Energy’s funder, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, was co-founded by American business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates. With the belief that solving climate change requires unique energy solutions, he launched BEV as a fund that will invest more than $1 billion in scientific research and energy innovations. His goal is to deliver cheap and reliable clean energy to the world.

    Gates, a vocal proponent of climate change mitigation and adaptation, believes the climate crisis requires both large and small-scale technologies. From home, solar panel installations to industry-sized solar farms, solar power and the increasing accessibility of robotic innovations can potentially disrupt the status quo and change how we produce energy. Decisive investments towards sustainable energy will likewise be essential to combating climate chaos, as noted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his COP27 speech. By phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewables, the planet will have a better fighting chance against climate change.

    Tina Olivero

    30 years ago, Tina Olivero looked into the future and saw an opportunity to make a difference for her province and people. That difference came in the form of the oil and gas sector. Six years before there was even a drop of oil brought to the shores of Newfoundland, she founded The Oil and Gas Magazine (THE OGM) from a back room in her home on Signal Hill Road, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A single mother, no financing, no previous journalism or oil and gas experience, she forged ahead, with a creative vision and one heck of a heaping dose of sheer determination. With her pioneering spirit, Ms. Olivero developed a magazine that would educate, inspire, motivate and entertain oil and gas readers around the world — She prides herself in marketing and promoting our province and resources in unprecedented ways. The OGM is a magazine that focuses on our projects, our people, our opportunities and ultimately becomes the bridge to new energy outcomes and a sustainable new energy world. Now diversifying into the communications realms, a natural progression from the Magazine, The OGM now offers an entirely new division - Oil & Gas Media. Today, The Oil and Gas Magazine is a global phenomenon that operates not only in Newfoundland, but also in Calgary and is read by oil and gas enthusiasts in Norway, Aberdeen, across the US and as far reaching as Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East. Believing that Energy is everyone’s business, Ms. Olivero has combined energy + culture to embrace the worlds commitment to a balance of work and home life as well as fostering a foundation for health and well being. In this era of growth and development business and lifestyle are an eloquent mix, there is no beginning or end. Partnering with over 90 oil and gas exhibitions and conferences around the world, Ms. Olivero's role as a Global Visionary is to embrace communication in a way that fosters oil and gas business and industry growth in new and creative ways.

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