Software is eating renewable power markets: cleantech investment roundup


Utility solar software gets $6 million

Terabase Energy is on a mission to drive down utility-scale solar power prices to below $0.01 per kWh by 2025. Using its software, automation and “digital-twin” modeling, the new company aims to modernize solar power-plant optimization.

The startup just closed a $6 million Series A round to further develop its platform — led by SJF Ventures along with follow-on investments from Powerhouse Ventures, CityLight Capital and Trancoso Partners.

Matt Campbell, the company CEO, told pv magazine that while solar hardware has gotten cheaper — soft costs have been stubborn and a more significant piece of the total project cost (a similar situation to the residential and commercial solar segments.)

The startup is cofounded by SunPower alums: CEO Matt Campbell, Chris Baker, Amine Berrada, Dan Cohen, Pierre Gousseland and Thang Le. When SunPower exited the utility-scale business in 2019, the startup effectively spun out the core utility-scale team and acquired some relevant intellectual property from the solar pioneer.

Terabase is no stranger to world-record low, utility-scale solar pricing — the startup recently provided digital and engineering services for the 800-MW Siraj-1 solar power plant in Qatar which will sell power for $0.01449/kWh.

$5.1 million for solar analysis and O&M software

SenseHawk, a SaaS platform that helps customers develop, build and operate solar and other infrastructure sites, raised $5.1 million in Series A1 funding led by Alpha Wave Incubation, a venture fund managed by Falcon Edge Capital and backed by ADQ, a large regional holding firm in Abu Dhabi — along with existing investor SAIF Partners.

SenseHawk’s cloud-based platform and software enable solar companies to reduce costs, enhance workforce productivity and improve solar site performance using AI and machine learning models.

The platform is used by over 80 customers to analyze over 28 GW of solar assets in 15 countries. Global installed solar capacity is expected to increase from the current installed base of 600GW to 3,000 GW worldwide in 2030.

Applications on the platform support site and terrain management, construction monitoring, operations, thermography and work management.

$6 million for time series forecasting in electricity

Myst AI, an artificial intelligence platform for time series forecasting in electricity, closed on a $6 million Series A round led by Valo Ventures along with Gradient Ventures. The funding will be used to expand the company’s forecasting-as-a-service product.

For the team at Myst, the goal has always been to mitigate the effects of climate change and find the most effective way to get a high volume of renewables not only on the grid, but generating and contributing to the grid in the most effective way possible. “We really strongly believe that many of the biggest problems that we’re facing today as humanity can be solved, in part, by better forecasting,” Myst co-founder and CEO, Pieter Verhoeven, told pv magazine.

“The reason why we chose to focus on electricity initially is because this is a place where accurate near-term forecasting is a critical component of the transition that we’re now in and will be in for the next ten or more years,” Myst co-founder Titiaan Palazzi said.

$30 million for smart streetlights

Ubicquia, a provider of smart city, small cell and smart grid solutions closed a $30 million Series C funding round from Fuel Venture Capital and ClearSky. Ubicquia’s platforms plug into existing streetlights to provide light control and video AI to optimize traffic management and improve public safety.

Ubicquia’s communication platforms deliver public WiFi, private LTE and small cells that plug into a streetlight photocell socket. The startup’s smart grid platforms can help utilities harden their utility pole and distribution transformer networks while delivering real-time data for monitoring critical infrastructure. Ubicquia is deployed in more than 100 cities.

Earlier this year, Ubicquia acquired smart city platform CityIQ from GE Current, adding more than 8,000 cameras deployed across the U.S. and Canada to enhance traffic optimization and public safety to its fleet.

Space-eye view of wildfire risk gets $1.7 million seed funding

Overstory (the former raised a $1.7 million seed round led by climate fund Pale Blue Dot and joined by Powerhouse Ventures, Techstars and Futuristic VC. The startup’s vegetation intelligence platform uses machine learning to interpret satellite imagery and climate data. The platform helps electric utilities reduce the risks of wildfires and power outages.

Emily Kirsch of Powerhouse writes: “Utilities can spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year on trucks, helicopters and drones to inspect their grids for vegetation that can spark fires and dispatching crews to clear dangers like dying trees, overhanging limbs and tinder-dry brush. But it’s impossible for utilities to track the vegetation changes that occur between inspections; it can take years to cycle through thousands of miles of power lines”

“Overstory got its start combining satellite images of forests with correlating data to gain insight that photographs taken from space can’t reveal. If a utility can take a relatively minor and inexpensive action to prevent tens of billions of dollars of losses, which is what the Nov. 2018 Camp Fire cost PG&E, that is enough incentive for a utility to act.”

$200 million IPO for a climate change SPAC

Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition is a SPAC led by Mary Powell (former CEO of Green Mountain Power) and David Crane (former CEO of NRG Energy), filed for a $200 million IPO, as reported by Axios. Here’s the S-1.

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