Led by United States-based energy giant AES Corporation and Sydney-headquartered investment management firm Artesian Venture Capital, the capital raise will support 5B’s market expansion, supply and delivery chain development and execution of its technology and product roadmap.
The completion of the capital raise follows the revelation that 5B had made dozens of employees redundant two weeks ago.
5B co-founder and chief executive officer Chris McGrath said about 50 staff , mainly from the company’s operational side of the business had been offered redundancies.
McGrath blamed challenges on multiple fronts for the staff cuts, including supply chain and logistics disruptions brought on by the pandemic, as well as the soaring cost of materials.
5B said the capital raise will help it to overcome the headwinds, allowing it unlock the full potential of its re-deployable, modular, prefabricated Maverick solar technology, a solar array in which modules come preassembled onto concrete blocks that replace conventional mounting structures.
A single Maverick is a ground-mounted solar array block of up to 90 PV modules, which can be made with any standard framed 60 or 72-cell PV module. With modules oriented in a concertina shape at a 10-degree tilt and electrically configured, each Maverick weighs about three tonnes. When deployed, one block is 5.5 meters wide and 16.7 meters long (40 modules).
The Maverick features “plug-and-play” wiring designed for faster, easier and safer on-site deployment ideally suited for mining, commercial and industrial, and large-scale solar power generation.
The Sydney-based 5B said it has more than 50MW of its Maverick solution deployed across more than 100 sites and five continents, along with an order book of more than 100MW.
Only last month it set a new speed record for solar deployment with 1.1MW deployed in a single day by a crew of 10 people at AES’ Andes Solar II B solar farm in Chile’s Atacama Desert. the installation was carried out by 5B’s Latin American deployment partner SolarMovil which installed 22 Maverick arrays in a single day as part of a larger deployment of 219 Mavericks with a total generation capacity of more than 10MW.
“It has been an incredible couple of years for us, in spite of the state of the world, we have successfully launched our Maverick solution into the United States, Latin America, Europe and India, while building a global supply chain and deployment ecosystem to support this,” McGrath said.
McGrath said 5B is now looking to build upon that foundation, turning to automation and advanced manufacturing across its technology platform. This is expected to drive a further step change in speed and capacity increase, as well as cost reduction, and see 5B break through its first gigawatt of sales.
“Our next generation deployment vehicle for Maverick is going to take our current solar deployment record, and 10x it again,” he said. “This will completely remove the speed of deployment as a constraint in solar projects. The challenge will then become other parts of the project development, supply chain, and build cycle.”
The capital raise comes just months after 5B announced a $33.4 million tech innovation program to accelerate the delivery of what the Federal government as called “ultra low cost solar”. The program is supported by a $14 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The funding, which comes less than a year after 5B closed a $12 million funding round, includes a heavy portion devoted to the realisation of solar installation robots.
And in December 2021, 5B acquired an Adelaide manufacturing plant ahead of the global gigawatt-scale push of its Maverick solar arrays.
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