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Are Solar Panel Installations Fast Enough Today?

Average roof sizes are usually around 1,000-3000 square feet. A typical solar panel installation will take about 2-3 days, depending on the size and shape of the roof. It might seem fast enough for some manufacturers and homeowners, but tech leaders and many businesses want it to go even faster.

Automation is the number-one solution for rapid solar panel system development. It has worked well for many business models, especially in the mass manufacturing sectors. Various businesses have implemented automation that indirectly affects their business. For example, marketing platforms that collect consumer data is a form of automation that can help a business.

Solar panel systems for homeowners that can supply from 200-500 kWh of electricity per day with 20-25%-efficiency solar panels are unquestionably reliable. They don't mind if installation teams can install it within a week or less. However, large-scale projects intended to power entire city grids will require faster means of deploying solar panel technologies.

The biggest issue of these big implementations is human limits. Daytime and noon across fields of solar panels and dust under the heat of the sun can cause heatstroke. It would never be a viable workplace for humans. With this in mind, businesses intend to use robots to solve the problem.

That's exactly what a Bill Gates-funded company thought of doing. Bloomberg has a great post about it. We've included an excerpt below.

A Berkeley, California startup that automates solar panel installation has raised $44 million in a funding round co-led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Terabase Energy has already developed software to design solar panels and improve their efficiency in changing weather conditions. It plans to use the new funding to scale up its system for mass installation, aiming to reduce the cost of developing utility-scale solar projects.

While there are existing methods to automate or digitize separate steps of solar construction and deployment, Matt Campbell, co-founder and chief executive officer of Terabase, says that the company automates the whole process. 

“The solar industry has come a long way, but the process by which projects are designed is largely manual,” Campbell said in an interview. Prelude Ventures co-led the funding round, and SJF Ventures also participated, bringing the total amount of capital raised to $52 million. 

The company finished its first commercial deployment of robots to install solar panels two weeks ago for a 400 megawatt project in central Texas, where robots installed 10 megawatts. “It’s a big stepping stone towards the future,” Campbell said. “Next year, we’re going to be scaling it to the hundreds of megawatts.” 

Terabase typically sets up a pop-up factory in the middle of a worksite. There, every 20 seconds, robotic arms attach solar panels that weigh almost a hundred pounds to a solar tracker, a steel structure that rotates panels to face the sun. The structure is then delivered to the solar array using special vehicles — these are not automated, but the company is developing an autonomous version, Campbell said. 

Automation can also help with the problem of finding workers willing to toil under the harsh sun, something that was an issue even before the unemployment rate fell so low, said Carmichael Roberts, who co-leads the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures. (Continued)

You can always count on Roper Roofing & Solar to provide top-tier roofing and solar panel installations for your property. Call us today to get started.

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