From pv magazine USA.
Erthos, an energy technology company with uniquely designed utility-scale Earth Mount Solar PV, announced 14 MW of projects under contract and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a single 107 MWdc project. These agreements are with five of the top US and global utility-scale solar developers, Erthos reports.
What makes earth mount solar PV unique is that the solar arrays are mounted directly on the earth with no mounts or trackers below. While the design is unusual, the company announced the closing of a $27.8 million (USD 17.5 million) Series B funding round in March to scale-up. This follows a $11.8 million Series A in 2019, which launched the company and helped it finalise the earth-mount system architecture. It also funded the development of the autonomous cleaning robot, which drives over the surface of the panels to clean them, which is necessitated by having the solar modules so close to the ground.
While most utility-scale solar installations use single-axis trackers, Erthos said that with the drop in solar module prices, it is more cost effective to buy additional solar modules to make up for the loss of efficiency from foregoing trackers. The company points to other advantages as well, including increased panel density, which can cut land costs. Visual impact is minimal because the modules sit on the ground. And the company says it can install the modules in about half the time, halving the cost.
Maryland-based Chaberton Energy focuses on community solar and is benefiting from Earth Mount Solar PV’s ability to deliver the desired energy on a fraction of the land compared to other solutions.
“Erthos technology allows us to build projects in specific locations that present challenges in terms of land availability and visibility. We’re excited to collaborate with the Erthos team, and we look forward to the opportunity to deploy this technology at more locations,” says Stefano Ratti, CEO of Chaberton Energy. Erthos and Chaberton Energy have executed two Owner’s Architect Agreements for projects in the mid-Atlantic.
Encore Renewable Energy, which focuses on community-scale renewable energy and energy storage development with headquarters in Vermont, has signed an MOU with Erthos for a noteworthy project in its portfolio.
“As a forward-looking company, our team is always looking to improve the value of our projects with innovative technology,” says Chad Farrell, CEO of Encore Renewable Energy. “Erthos is answering that call for a project of ours, significantly improving project economics with its novel earth-mounted approach,” says Farrell.
Path Company, which has operations across the southern US, has agreed to use Earth Mount Solar PV for a community college project in its home state of Mississippi. Erthos offered Path several key benefits, including the lowest first cost for the project, optimal land usage, and access to the knowledge and experience of the Erthos team.
“With Erthos, we are getting a solution adapted to our specific site and project, provided by some of the most experienced professionals in the business,” says Russ Phillips, co-founder of Path Company. “We know our project is in good hands.”
Projects under contract will bring the installed base of Earth Mount Solar PV to 17 MWdc. Additionally, Erthos has signed an MOU for a 107 MWdc project with a yet-to-be-disclosed US developer.
“In this case, the project has very high interconnection costs,” says Jim Tyler, CEO of Erthos. “Erthos offers a clear advantage here because it has two to three times the energy density of a tracker or fixed-tilt system. This makes it ideal for projects with high fixed costs,” says Tyler.