US rackless, earth-mounted solar supplier secures funding


From pv magazine USA

Erthos produces “earth-mount” solar arrays that sit flat on the ground, with no mounts or trackers below them. It recently announced the closing of a $17.5 million Series B funding round to scale up its business. It has an active project pipeline of more than 2.5GW.

The prevailing utility-scale solar standard is to use single-axis trackers to increase production throughout the day. Erthos’ model defies this standard by instead opting to cut material and maintenance costs, while also cutting land costs by increasing panel density.

While this model might have been more challenging in the past, solar module prices have come down dramatically over the years. Erthos said that at current prices, it is more cost-effective to buy additional solar modules to make up for the loss of efficiency that occurs when developers do not use trackers.

Capricorn Investment Group, which is known for participating in the Tesla and SpaceX launch, led the Series B round.

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“We see in Erthos a unique opportunity where simplicity and speed to market is coupled with an enormous ability to effect change,” says Ion Yadigaroglu, partner at Capricorn. “Additionally, declining module prices, increasing steel prices, and rampant supply chain problems are creating enormous tailwinds for Erthos.”

The investment follows a $7.4 million Series A round in 2019, which launched the company and helped it finalize its earth-mount system architecture. It also funded the development of an autonomous cleaning robot that drives over the surface of the panels to clean them.

It said it can install projects in half the time of utility-scale plants, at nearly half the cost, running under $0.50/W. Earth-mount solar requires 70% less cable, 70% less underground trenching, and very little water consumption, said Erthos.

The design eliminates the use of gaps between rows and the array is installed as a large, unified sheet, and Erthos said this allows their project to use one-third the land area of a conventional utility-scale solar design. The panels lay completely flat on the ground, which is why Erthos says its projects are resistant to category-four hurricanes.

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