Solar revolution: Terabase CEO unveils large automated module to fight mediocrity

Key Points:

  • Terabase, a US-based software provider, has unveiled the first automated installation of PV modules at scale on a solar project, which significantly improves project quality and efficiency.
  • Terabase’s unique artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automation system ameliorated the efficiency of construction work at a solar project in Arizona by 25% and is anticipated to boost the global solar sector.

In a significant stride against poor industry quality, Terabase successfully leveraged its AI-backed Terafab platform to install 17MW of solar modules on the 225MW White Wing Ranch project in Arizona. This marked the first-ever automated instalment of PV modules at scale on a solar project.
The innovative automation did not only install 16,000 panels in a row without causing any damage, but it also enhanced the efficiency of the construction work by 25%. This pattern could redefine operations within the global solar industry, especially during the existing labor shortage and heightened demand.

The digitalization process gives rise to derivative programs such as the Terabase Construct, which provides construction management and monitoring for large-scale solar projects, and Terafab, a robotics-enabled construction automation package. For the White Wing Ranch project, Terabase utilized a platform that automated the construction processes and sited the factory at the solar project location. This move offers several benefits including diminished transport costs.

According to Terabase CEO, Matt Campbell, the automated process greatly enhances project quality control, a rampant issue within the industry. Insurer kWh Analytics revealed that solar assets in the US have been underperforming, which could potentially jeopardize the industry’s long-term reputation. To counter this, the systematic application of robotics provides precise control over the quality of the project.

In terms of efficiency, Terabase observed remarkable improvements in the operational side during the Arizona project. It projects an efficiency gain of around 32% for the next project. Furthermore, the company forecasts that their next-generation system will complete construction 2.5 times faster, leading to a 50% reduction in labor requirements.

Despite the prevalent labor skills shortage within the overall PV value chain worldwide, there has been insignificant adoption of digital automation within the solar industry, particularly regarding the construction process.

Besides outstanding quality control, the automation brings notable benefits including improved workers’ health and safety. This is primarily due to eliminating the physically demanding steps which often lead to repetitive stress injuries and other worker issues.

Despite the prevailing interest from solar developers, the primary obstacle to scaling the technology faster is refining it to perform in extreme conditions. However, because of these automated processes, Campbell emphasizes the long-term benefits stemming from the huge datasets gathered over time. This data could potentially train AI platforms to further enhance this technology.