Ann Arbor’s SkySpecs, a provider of operations and maintenance solutions for the wind energy industry, has closed on a $17 million series C round led by McRock iNFund LP, a Canadian venture capital fund managed by McRock Capital.
SkySpecs will use the funding to further implement technology like AI, machine learning, robotics, and software, to optimize operations and maintenance in order to enable better decision making about repairs and proactive planning. Its mission is to continue driving change in the renewable energy sector such that technology and automation enable higher levels of global accessibility.
“This investment is a reflection of our commitment to both our customers and the renewables sector,” says Danny Ellis, CEO of SkySpecs.
He says the firm experienced a significant growth this year, tripling its staff and building its solutions offerings for the wind energy industry, and reaching a landmark 30,000 fully autonomous inspections.
“This round and our continued momentum highlights how massive the need is to streamline operations and maintenance for renewable energy,” says Tom Brady, co-founder and chief technical officer of SkySpecs. “Our newest investors bring a depth of experience and share our vision of robotically-run wind farms. Our new funding will fuel continued product innovations that will make our vision a reality.”
Scott MacDonald, co-founder and managing partner at McRock, says, “As a leader in the wind energy technology space, the SkySpecs’ team presented a unique mix of skills across software analytics and robotic technology, combined with deep focus in a vertical market that is undergoing change. SkySpecs is pushing the frontier of data-driven decision making to add technological advancements to the way turbines are kept healthy and technology is employed.”
Other new investors in the round included Equinor Energy Ventures, and Evergy Ventures, the non-regulated investment affiliate of Evergy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCP&L) and Westar Energy, alongside participation by existing investors including Statkraft Ventures, UL Ventures, Capital Midwest Fund, and Venture Investors. The investment follows an $8 million series B in January of 2018, and brings SkySpecs total raised to $29 million.
“Utilities are increasing clean energy production, shifting generation mix toward sustainable sources,” says Brock Smith, managing director of Evergy Ventures. “Wind energy will play a key role in making the United States’ generation mix sustainable. As wind fleets get older, keeping costs low will require solutions like SkySpecs’ Horizon platform that enable damage detection, predictive maintenance, and automation of what are labor intensive tasks today.”
SkySpecs officials viewsthe influx of capital as pivotal, coming at a time when both renewable energy and the key players involved in its rapid growth, are ready to invest in adopting a more streamlined, data-driven approach to maintaining their fleet of wind turbines, which now require closer attention and more predictive maintenance as they age.
“Wind farms require intelligent maintenance in order for wind to be a main source of sustainable energy,” says Simin Zhou, corporate vice president and managing director of UL Ventures. “The SkySpecs Team shares our vision and has the technical and operational depth to develop the intelligent maintenance solutions that are needed.”
SkySpecs automates the operations and maintenance of wind energy assets through robotics, predictive analytics software, and industry expertise to enable better decision making and a higher degree of transparency into operational planning over the lifetime of a fleet.