Watch: Robots install solar project in Arizona desert


From pv magazine USA

Terabase Energy, developer of Terafab, an automated utility-scale solar installation platform, announced it has successfully completed its first commercial installation. The company’s “field factory” installed 17 MW of a 225 MW solar project in Arizona in development by Leeward Renewable Energy and engineering and construction contractor RES.

The Terafab system makes use of digital twins, logistics software, an on-site digital command center, a field-deployed automated assembly line, and installation rovers that can operate 24/7.

In the Arizona project, Terabase said its labour productivity improved 25% when compared with manual installation.

“[The project] demonstrates that Terabase’s technology can drive substantial progress in solar construction safety, quality, cost, and schedule,” said Will Schultek, vice president of construction, RES.

The installation system cuts the amount of labour needed on-site and improves working conditions for labourers. Workers are housed in shaded and cooled conditions, allowing for system operation and installation in harsh desert environments.

The modules are mounted in the field factory before being installed in place.

Image: Terabase Energy

Reducing labor requirements to install utility-scale solar projects may prove useful for accelerating the energy transition. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) projects a demand of 800,000 new solar workers by 2030 to build the projects the United States needs to be on pace with its decarbonization plan. However, 44% of solar industry employers report it is “very difficult” to find qualified applicants, said the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Terabase’s field factory also enabled a 100% return on solar panel packaging for reuse by the manufacturer.

Leeward Renewable Energy executive vice president of project execution Sam Mangrum said the benefits demonstrated in the project underscore the “transformative potential of automation” in solar.

“This milestone marks a pivotal moment in our mission to accelerate solar plant deployment to meet the terawatt scale demands of the future,” said Matt Campbell, chief executive officer at Terabase Energy. “Furthermore, the Terafab system was deployed alongside our Construct digital twin software for managing and monitoring solar power plant construction.”

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