Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy backs Terabase’s robot-built solar farms

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate-focused VC firm linked to some of Earth’s wealthiest individuals, has joined a $44 million bet on solar startup Terabase Energy.

Terabase aims to rapidly build new solar farms “at the terawatt scale,” CEO Matt Campbell said in a statement. The startup claims its automated, on-site factory can already speed up plant construction and cut costs by employing robotic arms that lift and connect heavy solar panels to sun trackers. When asked for photos of the insides of its factory, Campbell pointed TechCrunch to previously published aerial pics and declined to share more, “for competitive reasons.”

Terabase also makes software tools to manage the design and construction of solar farms. The startup recently wrapped its first commercial project, where its robots reportedly installed 10 megawatts worth of panels. There are one million megawatts in a terawatt, so the startup still has a long way to go to reach its aspirations.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures was founded by Bill Gates, and its board members include Jeff Bezos and Masayoshi Son. The VC firm co-led the Terabase deal alongside Lime and Amp Robotics investor Prelude Ventures.

Their investment comes as rich folks face scrutiny for their outsized climate pollution. Gates’ private jet might not be as active as Taylor Swift’s, yet the Microsoft co-founder reportedly owns several and has called private flying his “guilty pleasure.”

Other recent deals for solar energy startups include panel installer Zolar ($105 million) and solar network developer Okra ($2.1 million).

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