The venture capital arm of energy giant BP has tipped $20 million into Sydney solar array startup 5B, to close out its $55 million Series B.
The additional funds from bp ventures end a 15-month capital campaign that saw the first $30 million secured in June, with the round being led by existing backers AES Corporation and Artesian Venture. The two VCs tipped in an additional $5 million alongside bp ventures in the latest raise. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and climate campaigner Simon Holmes à Court are also among 5B’s investors.
5B has developed a rapid deployment system for solar panels – it doesn’t produce them – called the 5B Maverick, on specially designed frames containing up to 90 panels. This year 5B Maverick was used to deploy solar systems 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 system is now at 100 sites globally, with a generating capacity of more than 60MW. 5b has also been flagged as the preferred supplied for the massive, $30 billion Sun Cable project in the Northern Territory to supply Singapore with renewable energy.
Former Infigen Energy colleagues Chris McGrath and Eden Tehan launched 5B in 2013.
McGrath, 5B’s CEO, said the bp ventures capital will help with the company’s international expansion plans, including a manufacturing and assembly hub in North America.
“It’s hugely encouraging to see bp’s transition and we look forward to working together to accelerate that effort. Collaborating with bp ventures and the broader bp businesses offers us a wealth of global commercial and operational expertise,” he said.
“It presents a great opportunity to deploy our 5B Maverick technology across a range of global markets. The backing of such an active and experienced venture capital team is a powerful validation of our technology and ability to support bp as it transitions to an integrated energy company.”
bp ventures principal Johnathan Stone will join the 5B board and said the scale-up will also collaborate with other parts of the BP business to ramp up its growth.
“5B’s innovative solar technology can deliver low-cost power generation at speed, helping to meet rising electricity demand,” he said.
“This deal is a fantastic example of bp investing in a business that will support our renewable energy transition growth engine. And is another strand of our multi-energy vector country strategy that will support the decarbonisation of energy in Australia.”
BP’s gas & low carbon energy business and 50-50 joint venture, Lightsource BP, will look to use 5B Maverick systems on their projects.