Planted Solar and Cultivate Power Announce 11 MW Community Solar Development in Chicago Metro Area to Deliver 2X the Energy per Acre over Conventional Solar Plants

Planted Solar, a technology startup providing a rapid solar power plant deployment platform, emerged from stealth and announced 11 MW of projects in the Chicago metro area with Cultivate Power, a distributed solar and storage project developer.

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Planted Solar construction robots assembling a solar array. (Photo: Business Wire)

Planted Solar construction robots assembling a solar array. (Photo: Business Wire)

Planted Solar’s integrated system combines development software, high-density terrain-following arrays, and construction robots to help solar project developers deliver abundant, reliable, and carbon-free energy faster. Cultivate Power partnered with Planted Solar to lower its projects’ footprint, unlock previously unattainable financial value, and reduce construction complexity. Planted Solar’s technology enables:

  • High Energy Density: A 2-acre / MW footprint allows developers to create new opportunities near valuable interconnection points and cut land use in half.
  • Lower Cost of Energy: A 50% reduction in balance of system costs, fewer installation hours, and less risk drive higher returns.
  • Rapid Deployment: Simplified processes and automation increase project throughput by 3x.
  • Sustainable Development: All-terrain arrays that can be built on slopes up to 27% eliminate grading and preserve existing topography.

“Planted Solar gives our team a strategic tool to be stewards of the land and develop better projects with our community partners," said Brian Matthay, co-founder and Managing Director of Cultivate Power. “Cultivate is focused on collaborating with landowners and communities so we can integrate solar seamlessly with the local environment and agricultural operations."

Planted Solar has raised $20 million in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Khosla Ventures. This financial backing and a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office award support the commercial launch and scale-up of Planted Solar’s high-throughput solar power deployment product.

“Although the solar industry has experienced phenomenal growth, significant advances are needed for the next phase of scalability,” said Eric Brown, CEO of Planted Solar. “We've redesigned the power plant from the ground up with integrated software, hardware, and automation to help developers create new opportunities on land previously considered unviable and quickly power the world with clean energy. The development team at Cultivate has successfully developed gigawatts of solar power across the United States in their careers. Planted Solar is thrilled to partner with Cultivate Power to kick off the terawatt era of solar power.”

Solar power capacity now exceeds 1.5 terawatts (TW) globally and is the largest source of new electricity generation annually. A group led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy, and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology concluded that 75 TW of solar power is required to meet 2050 decarbonization targets. However, major challenges must be overcome to meet this goal. Suitable land near transmission, permitting restrictions, complex supply chains, and an increasing shortage of skilled construction labor are growing threats to sustaining solar’s growth. This comes at a time when the grid must absorb booming energy demand from data centers, manufacturing, electrification, and emerging power-to-X applications.

"We believe that Planted Solar's innovative solar technology will play a critical role in accelerating the global adoption of clean energy," said Carmichael Roberts at Breakthrough Energy Ventures. "The company's unique combination of software, robotics, and simplified hardware design has the potential to transform the solar power plant development and construction industry and make solar energy more accessible, affordable, and sustainable than ever before."

"At Khosla Ventures, we invest early in bold companies that can impact massive societal change," said Rajesh Swaminathan, partner at Khosla Ventures. "Planted Solar’s technology, which combines advanced robotics with ingenious system design, exemplifies the kind of radical innovation and relentless pursuit of efficiency that the solar industry needs. Their approach is a reinvention of the solar deployment paradigm, ensuring rapid and scalable energy solutions to improve lives around the world."

Planted Solar is headquartered in Oakland, California. To learn more, please visit www.plantedsolar.com.

About Planted Solar

Planted Solar has reinvented the solar power plant from design to installation with its rapid solar deployment platform. Planted Solar uses development software and construction robots to build flexible, all-terrain, high-density power plants that generate 2x more energy per acre, are completed 3x as fast, and dramatically accelerate solar development throughput. Backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Khosla Ventures, Planted Solar's mission is to rapidly power the world with clean energy. For more information, visit www.plantedsolar.com.

About Cultivate Power

Cultivate Power is a distributed solar and storage project developer committed to strengthening communities, the grid, and climate stability. The company is uniquely focused on developing 10- to 50-acre solar and storage projects on farmland and infill. Led by long-time renewable energy professionals Brian Matthay and Noah Hyte, Cultivate Power and its in-market development teams operate with the belief that climate challenges can be better addressed by prioritizing the local benefits of distributed clean power. For more information, please visit www.cultivate-power.com.

About Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV has raised more than $2 billion in committed capital to support cutting-edge companies that are leading the world to net-zero emissions. BEV is a purpose-built investment firm that is seeking to invest, launch and scale global companies that will eliminate GHG emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. BEV seeks true breakthroughs and is committed to supporting these entrepreneurs and companies by bringing to bear a unique combination of technical, operational, market and policy expertise.

BEV is a part of Breakthrough Energy, a network of investment vehicles, philanthropic programs, policy advocacy and other activities committed to scaling the technologies we need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Visit www.breakthroughenergy.org to learn more.

About Khosla Ventures

Khosla Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in clean technology and internet companies. Founded in 2004 by Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and former general partner at Kleiner Perkins, the firm is based in Menlo Park, California. Khosla Ventures provides venture assistance and strategic advice to entrepreneurs working on breakthrough technologies. The firm has a broad portfolio that includes investments in clean energy, agriculture, health, materials, and artificial intelligence. For more information, visit www.khoslaventures.com.