NEXTracker acquires predictive modeling software firm BrightBox


NEXTracker, the U.S. firm that builds tracking devices for the solar PV market, has confirmed today the purchase of predictive modeling software company BrightBox.

The acquisition will, according to NEXTracker CEO Dan Shugar, augment the company’s software engineering resources, and brings on board BrightBox co-founders Allan Daly and Francesco Borrelli, who will add their years of modeling and predictive control experience to the NEXTracker team.

Advanced diagnostics are becoming increasingly critical when building solar PV plants at large scale, and by bringing the BrightBox capabilities in-house, NEXTracker will be better placed to accelerate the commissioning time of its projects, and thus increase energy yield globally.

"This innovative platform builds on our existing wireless monitoring infrastructure that is being used to monitor the real-time angle and motor current of each and every tracker row we’ve deployed since 2013," said Shugar.

BrightBox’s software platform will also give NEXTracker first-mover capability in a tracker market that is becomingly increasingly crowded and cost-competitive.

NEXTracker was itself purchased last year by OEM giant Flextronics in a $330 million deal, and its parent company is eager to seek ways to continually optimize and actively manage energy production.

With BrightBox on board, said Flex Energy Solutions SVP Scott Graybeal, such sophistication will become more commonplace in NEXTracker’s operations.

"This acquisition furthers our strategy to enable smart and connected solutions for the renewable energy market," he said. "By integrating the Intelligence of Things in our services and solutions, we will transition the dialogue from kilowatts to kilowatt hours and solar power plant cash flow gains."

Flex will intregrate the BrightBox platform with its own Connected Intelligence platform, which will serve to "empower" NEXTracker’s global fleet of more than 4 GW of installed solar PV capacity with "a scalable and modern software stack for predictive control and performance optimization", the company said.

For BrightBox founder Rob Koch, the deal represented a good synergy between it and Flex. "Our technology delivers automated commissioning and value optimization of high-value, industrial-scale application solar PV power plants."

The September edition of pv magazine (published September 1) has a 20-page feature on smart renewable energy and the growing role that intelligence software is playing in the world’s energy ecosystem.

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