Australian renewable company 5B, which specializes in solar technology, has secured a $20 million AUD ($13.4 million) investment from bp ventures, which will enable rapid deployment of solar power at scale.
The investment in 5B wrapped up a Series B funding round of 55 million AUD that had been co-led by existing investors Artesian and the AES Corporation.
The capital raised will support the development of 5B’s re-deployable, modular, prefabricated Maverick solar system. Each 5B Maverick array consists of up to 90 solar panels mounted on specially designed frames that can be unfolded and installed at speed.
5B Maverick blocks are pre-assembled and prewired at a factory. They are then packed vertically so that four blocks can be fitted into a standard 40-foot shipping container with a total weight of under the maximum 6-tonne payload. Once onsite, 5B Mavericks blocks can be easily unloaded and expanded into a ground-mount East-West solar array, requiring minimal ground penetration and no need for cable trenching or significant groundwork.
The prefabricated nature of the solution reduces on-site cost, time, and safety risk by confining the construction of the solar array from the field to the factory, with improved quality control measures and waste processing. Also, the number of people on site is reduced by substituting manual labor activities with machines in the factory and in the field.
The company has already deployed the Maverick solution at more than 100 sites worldwide with a total generating capacity of over 60MW, including projects in the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. This year 5B Maverick was used to deploy panels with 1.1MW capacity – covering the equivalent of a soccer pitch – in a single day, with a team of only 10 at AES’ Andes Solar II B facility in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
The capital injection from bp ventures will support 5B’s technology development and growth. It will also accelerate 5B’s international expansion and its plans to establish a manufacturing and assembly hub in North America.
bp’s gas & low carbon energy (G&LCE) business and 50-50 joint venture, Lightsource bp, together with 5B, will explore the best opportunities to collaborate on the deployment of 5B’s Maverick technology on future bp and Lightsource bp projects. All three companies will continue to work on deploying solar energy to meet the rising demand for reliable, accessible, and affordable electricity.