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Building the Platform for Terawatt Scale Solar

Updated: Jun 7

Changing the game for very large scale solar is Terabase Energy and its CEO Matt Campbell. Clean Power host Tim Montague recently spoke with Matt about how we get there, while comprehensively decarbonizing the economy.



"Only about 1% of the solar that's going to be built has been built," says Matt, who left SunPower and started Terabase Energy to focus on innovation in utility scale solar. "Obviously because of climate, there is an imperative to go faster, and to make it cheaper, because it's not just about making electricity to go on the grid. It's about decarbonizing transportation and industry, steel, boats, planes, everything which requires green hydrogen."

He and his team decided that the key to unlocking the full potential of PV was to drive wholesale digitalization of everything in power plants, as well as automation in the construction and operation of the plants.

"One of our goals as a company is to help enable a solar cost reduction to one cent per kilowatt hour," Matt explains. "It's not because it's a convenient round number . . . If you want to get to one dollar hydrogen, you need to get to one cent solar. And I think it's a totally doable target."

Despite supply chain issues and other costly challenges, he says, "I'm 100% a believer in green hydrogen. I think that you can't credibly get to full decarbonization without it." And though there will be different ways to decarbonize different sectors, i.e., automobiles, planes, home heating vs. steel production, "I think that hydrogen is going to play a major role."

There are two specific things Terabase is addressing, cost and scalability. "We see those as the two big constraints to getting to the terawatt level," says Matt.

"We're driving 1000 improvements, and a lot of them seem mundane in isolation, but when you add them all together, cumulatively they can have a big impact," he explains.

"Today, the design and engineering of a project is mostly manual. Now there are some new digital tools that help facilitate the process. But the energy modeling is done in a client-based application, that design is done in CAD. And then a bill of materials is created in Excel. And so you've got these digital silos . . . things don't talk to each other.

So their view is that the digitalization of the activity, and the interoperability of those digital tools is a key enabler to drive consistent execution on projects, "to be more efficient, to get rid of the hidden costs, that happen throughout the value chain."

Back to 1000 improvements, "a lot of them can come strictly from that digital part of it. And, and as part of our strategy, we're building out a fully integrated suite of applications that talk to each other to help enable this sort of digitalized future."


Back to 1000 improvements, "a lot of them can come strictly from that digital part of it. And, and as part of our strategy, we're building out a fully integrated suite of applications that talk to each other to help enable this sort of digitalized future."

Watch the complete interview here: in which Tim and Matt expand on how digital and automation tools can streamline solar project development and operations; solar installation robotics; and Terabase's uniquely holistic approach to solar energy solutions.


Special to Clean Power 03.24.22
by Ruth Fein Revell
Blog subject: Matt Campbell, Terabase Energy

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