Robotic solar power startup QBotix has raised $12 million in Series B financing. E.ON and Iberdrola have joined existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Firelake Capital Management and Draper Nexus, in the funding round.
QBotix will use the funds to expand the team and accelerate manufacturing ramp up.
The two new backers are among the world?s largest energy companies, providing electricity to residential, commercial and industrial customers across four continents. They clearly believe in QBotix?s tilt-and-track technology, which is less than two years old.
QBotix uses robots to tilt solar panels as needed to face the sun, emulating a sunflower, as it moves across the sky. Trackers tilt the panels to get as much electricity out of them throughout the day as possible.
QBotix?s trackers use robots that travel an elevated track around the solar project to adjust the angle of the panels as needed; the robots are equipped with sensors, GPS and a wireless connection to continuously report back data.
Using robots for tracking can save 20 percent of the cost of the overall system, says the company.
The ?SolBots? operate without permanently based motors or parts – which account for 68 percent of solar installation costs.
The solar industry as a whole is growing fast, with with the Solar Energy Industries Association reporting a 35 percent year-over-year increase in solar panel deployment in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2013.
This week?s action builds on the company?s momentum for 2014. QBotix recently announced successfully completing its $1 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative award project and its first independent engineering (IE) report.
Fast Company in February 2014 recognized QBotix as one of the world?s top 10 most innovative companies in robotics.
QBotix previously announced a 45 MW supply agreement with UK-based developer Castillium. QBotix has installed systems in the U.S. and Japan and is developing additional projects in the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Australia.