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Solar Thermal Startup Ausra Secures $40M

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ausra.jpgThere’s been a lot of chatter about the secretive solar thermal startup, Ausra, which was known to be backed by high-profile venture firms Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup decided to open the kimono a bit Monday morning and has announced that it has raised a series A round for more than $40 million.

Ausra’s solar thermal systems use mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight onto water or liquid-filled tubes, which in turn power steam turbines. The old school technology has come back into vogue over the past few years as a way for utilities to deliver large-scale sources of clean power — and meet clean energy regulations.

Israeli solar thermal company Solel Solar Systems recently scored a deal with PG&E (PCG), announced in July, to build an estimated $2 billion massive solar thermal plant in California‚Äôs Mohave Desert. Google’s (GOOG) energy czar, Bill Weihl, mentioned to us that solar thermal is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to new choices for renewable energy.

A variety of solar technology has been getting a rush of funding over the past few weeks, including SolarCity, a solar installer, which said late Friday that it raised $21 million.