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Summary:

BrightSource Energy, the solar thermal startup that scored one of the industry’s biggest solar power plant deals in April, has just raised a massive $115 million in Series C funding and has added some big new names to its list of investors including Google.org, BP Alternative […]

BrightSource Energy, the solar thermal startup that scored one of the industry’s biggest solar power plant deals in April, has just raised a massive $115 million in Series C funding and has added some big new names to its list of investors including Google.org, BP Alternative Energy, StatoilHydro Venture and Black River. Return backers include VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, DBL Investors, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Chevron Technology Ventures. This pushes the Oakland, Calif.-based startup’s funding over $160 million.

BrightSource says it intends to use the funds to start building its five large solar thermal plants in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, which could cost $2 to $3 billion. The company has signed a series of power purchase agreements with Northern California utility PG&E for 900 MW, and the company says it could start construction as soon as 2009; the plants could start churning out solar power as early as 2011.

This is the second solar thermal funding from Google.org. In March the news was out that the Goog branch invested in Bill Gross’s solar thermal startup, eSolar. Google is looking to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into funding large-scale renewable energy sources and startups that can deliver power cheaper than coal. Google particularly wants to fund “high-risk” clean energy projects that have proven difficult to finance, like solar thermal plants.

BrightSources’ new funding continues to heat up the solar thermal race in the deserts of the Southwest, where at least 11 companies are all working to secure land rights, sign power purchase agreements and lobby for new transmission lines to get their power plants up and running.

BrightSource uses a central power tower design, which includes an array of mirrors that reflect the sun’s light onto a central receiver full of water, creating steam and powering a turbine. Competitors including Solel, which uses a solar light-catching trough design, and Ausra, which uses linear Fresnel technology, have also signed deals with PG&E to build plants. Other startup competitors include: Stirling Energy Systems, Infinia, SolarReserve and SkyFuel. Then there’s also the big international players Abengoa Solar, FPL Energy and Acciona.

The above video is from BrightSource and is of the construction of their Israeli pilot plant.

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  1. If you’d like to hear more about what BrightSource, BP Alternative Energy, Abengoa, Google.org, and Acciona are doing in the renewable energy field, you should attend the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street (http://www.REFFWallStreet.com), held June 18-19 in New York City. Dan Reicher, of Google.org, will chair the conference, and Vivienne Cox, the CEO of BP Alternative Energy, will be a keynote speaker at the event. In addition, the CEOs of BrightSource Energy, Abengoa, and Acciona North America will speak about the potential for solar thermal power. Other topics of discussion at the event include photovoltaics, wind energy, biofuels, carbon finance, and more.

  2. U.S. Suspends New Solar Projects on Public Land, Reactions Mixed « Earth2Tech Friday, June 27, 2008

    [...] process. Charles Ricker, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Oakland-based solar thermal company BrightSource, says that the “process is getting clogged,” and “there are just too many [...]

  3. Google Drills $10.25M into Geothermal « Earth2Tech Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    [...] and made mention of intentions to invest in geothermal. Google built out its solar plays with a big investment in BrightSource. Then, earlier this summer, following Google.org’s conference on plug-in electric cars, the [...]

  4. peHUB » Archive » OptiSolar Raises $77.8M Thursday, September 4, 2008

    [...] Although the financing sounds huge to me, it is in-line with the other massive capital outlays going to solar companies. Google and BP poured $115 million into OptiSolar competitor BrightSource last quarter, as Earth2Tech reports. [...]

  5. Google is the #2 Cleantech Investor in the Third Quarter [Earth2Tech - Start-Up News] | Internet Startups Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    [...] Still Google is being very aggressive in terms of investing in clean power generation and electric vehicles, that are generally outside of the company’s expertise. Google has also previously made several bets on solar, including eSolar, and BrightSource. [...]

  6. Google, No. 2 Cleantech Venture Investor in Q3 « Earth2Tech Thursday, October 2, 2008

    [...] Google is being very aggressive in terms of investing in clean power generation and electric vehicles, and has also previously made several bets on solar, including eSolar, and BrightSource. [...]

  7. Siemens to Build 123MW Solar Turbine Generator for BrightSource « Earth2Tech Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    [...] the Oakland, Calif.-based startup announced today. Having raised more than $160 million (including$115 million from Google.org, BP, and other big investors in Series C financing last May) and snagged a deal to sell California utility PG&E up to 900 [...]

  8. So Cal Edison and BrightSource Sign Huge 1.3GW Solar Deal « Earth2Tech Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    [...] the stimulus package before starting construction. The company has raised more than $160 million, including a massive $115 million Series C round announced in May. Investors include Google.org, BP Alternative Energy, StatoilHydro Venture, Black River, [...]

  9. Google, BP, invest in BrightSource Energy « Bright Source Energy Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    [...] BrightSource Energy, an Oakland, Calif.-based builder of solar-thermal utility plants, announced it raised $115 million in funding to expand into markets around the world. BP Alternative Energy and StatoilHydro Venture joined [...]

  10. Google to Move Into Clean Energy Project Investing Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    [...] has already directly invested into the companies that build these projects, like solar thermal firms BrightSource and eSolar. If Google ends up providing a particularly high amount of funds for project financing, [...]

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