Terabase Raises $6M Series A to Lower Cost of Utility-Scale Solar

A year after launching, solar software startup Terabase Energy
has raised $6 million to keep growing its team and services.

The Berkeley-based company
wound down
its project development business. Several former
SunPower employees built a software tool to manage costs at the
kinds of massive solar plants they used to develop: everything from
site selection and layout to shipping logistics for millions of
panels and the movements of laborers onsite.

The ultimate goal is to find enough incremental cost savings
across the board to bring the price of solar below one cent per
kilowatt-hour in the next five years, said co-founder and CEO Matt
Campbell. That would unlock terawatts of solar, making it
cost-effective as baseload power in conjunction with longer
duration storage—hence the company name.

“Everything has progressed the way we thought it would,†he
said of the software product. “Our thesis has been validated by
clients, and we’re involved with a lot of real projects.â€

The startup raised seed funding of just under $2 million last
year from individual investors and firms like Powerhouse Ventures,
City Light Capital and Trancoso Partners. Those three joined the
new round, led by SJF Ventures, which invested in NEXTracker and
groSolar, both of which exited via acquisition.

“They know utility-scale solar, they like utility-scale solar,
they made money in it,†Campbell said.

The circumstances of fundraising in quarantine were far from
what the team might have expected a year ago. To close the round,
Terabase held dozens of pitch meetings over Zoom in Campbell’s
garage—the company’s original headquarters—with a whiteboard
and solar panels as a backdrop.

In the last year, the startup grew to more than 20
employees around the world, and attracted more than 200 companies
to its digital platform. Terabase broke even in the second quarter
with revenue from those early customers, but the Series A will
allow new hires to expand the platform, Campbell said. The company
also recently hired Allan Daly as vice president of software; he
previously held that title at NEXTracker, and co-founded BrightBox

As for that one cent per kilowatt-hour price goal, the global
solar industry is getting closer. EDF and Jinko Solar won a
2-gigawatt tender in Abu Dhabi in April at
1.35 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour
. That project benefitted from
a 30-year contract with the state-run power company, which lowers
the cost of financing, as well as large and flat sites with
excellent solar resource.

8minute Solar Energy achieved a solar-only price of below 2 U.S.
cents per kilowatt-hour at its
Eland project
in California. The actual contract cost more
because it included battery storage.

Solar hardware has driven tremendous cost declines already, but
those declines will slow as modules get fully optimized, Campbell
said. Terabase is looking for additional savings across the
development, procurement, construction and operations phases. The
company’s bottom-up economic model tracks 100 categories for
delivering cost reductions.

“Based on our modeling, we think one cent is totally
achievable,” Campbell said. “To me, there’s no silver bullet. You
need to do a hundred things better.”

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Terabase Raises M Series A to Lower Cost of Utility-Scale