Mortenson partners with robotics maker on solar projects

Dive Brief:

  • Renewable energy projects are expected to boom in coming years, and a new partnership with Italian robotics maker Orteco will give Minneapolis-based contractor Mortenson a boost in its solar-related construction work.
  • The partnership, announced on Sept. 19 between the contractor and Orteco, will allow Mortenson to cut time and costs on solar builds. The robots can free up 80% of workers to focus their efforts elsewhere, according to the release. 
  • The GPS-enabled robots will perform pile distribution work that helps support the solar panels. The autonomous pile distribution system, which holds up to 100 steel piles at a time, places piles in exact positions in preparation for the process, according to the release. The company is piloting the robots on a 600-megawatt project for an undisclosed project in the Texas Panhandle.

Dive Insight:

Mortenson has ramped up its emphasis on solar in the past few years. Currently the company is working on a massive solar project in Spotsylvania, Virginia, which comprises four separate solar fields and spans approximately 6,350 acres.

Eric Grenz, a vice president and general manager at Mortenson who oversees the company’s solar division, said that renewable energy work has made up third of the company’s revenue over the last few years. Grenz said recently, there has been a new rush of interest in the sector.

Mortenson will leverage the robot on its solar projects.

Courtesy of Mortenson


“The renewable energy space in general is becoming a very competitive landscape across the entire spectrum,” Grenz told Construction Dive.

Grenz said the Inflation Reduction Act is a key contributor to the influx of interest and investment in solar construction. The legislation dedicates $369 billion to energy and climate measures.

“The IRA passage gives the renewable energy space a never-seen-before runway for the next 10 years,” Grenz said.

Other companies are also looking to invest in the renewable energy space. Edmonton, Alberta-based PCL Construction announced massive growth in its solar division in August. Rodolfo Bitar, the business manager for PCL’s solar division, emphasized the influx of work and capital that would result from the federal funding.

“Government support for renewable energy here in the U.S. is definitely significant and opens the door for a lot more products and opportunities,” Bitar said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the amount of revenue that Mortenson takes in from its renewables business.

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