A Queensland startup helping power up America with drones to roll out power line upgrades has raised $36 million in a Series A.
The round for Infravision was led by US sustainability investor Energy Impact Partners (EIP), supported by Equinor Ventures and Edison International (EIX).
Robotics engineer Cameron Van Der Berg and military veteran Chris Cox cofounded Infravision in 2018, initially using drones to instal sensors on power lines that check environmental factors which impact on transmission capacity, such as heat and wind. Since then the’ve developed a drone system for power line installation, replacing the dangerous and expensive use of helicopters for the task.
Infravision’s TX System is being used by US utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for power line stringing over urban areas near San Francisco and also for restringing lines following the 2023 storm season. In Australia, it was used for the restringing of power lines in the Snowy Mountains following the 2019-20 bushfire season for clients including Transgrid and Powerlink.
The fresh capital is earmarked to scale operations in North America and for the expansion of its line stringing system and intelligent grid monitoring solutions, as well as bolstering the startup’s head count. Infravision has US operations based in Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California, as well as locally in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia.
Van Der Berg, the CEO, said the shift to renewable energy will see demand for their services grow.
“It is estimated that 10 million miles of new power lines are required by 2030 to reach net-zero targets, which is roughly equivalent to building the entire US and Canadian power grids again, which took us a century, in seven years,” he said.
“We’re confident Infravision’s proven technology is the solution for today, and for the future of power line construction automation and grid efficiency.”
Locally, the Australian Energy Market Operator estimates that the nation needs more than 10,000km of new transmission lines.
“Transmission networks are the backbone of electricity markets, and the Australian Government has rightly prioritised investment in this area to increase reliability and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.,” he said.
“Infravision is at the forefront of this infrastructure program and is well positioned to capitalise on it over the coming years.”
Transgrid’s Executive General Manager Delivery Craig Stallan said they have been working with Infravision for over four years
“That early investment is really starting to see the benefits of the technology now as we undertake multiple large scale construction projects to enable the clean energy transition,” he said.
Late last year, Intravision scored $700,000 in federal funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as part of a $1.8 million Transgrid project to deploy transmission sensors in western Sydney. It also received early funding as part of EnergyLab’s inaugural Climate Solutions accelerator program in 2021.