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Ausra Hot on the Trail of More Cash

Ausra, that flashy solar thermal startup that’s got Kleiner and Khosla as investors, outlined its future funding plans this week in New York at the Piper Jaffray Clean Technology and Renewables Conference. And whoa, does it entail a lot of cash! While Ausra said it had raised $40 million back in September, our buddy Martin LaMonica at CNET reports that the solar startup has:

  • secured $30 million in venture debt and is looking to add $15 million from original investors Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
  • is looking to raise a Series C venture funding round of $100 million to $150 million in the third quarter of this year.
  • will need two project financings in 2009.
  • intends to go public by 2010.

Well there you go, hundreds of millions and it’s all settled. Yeah right, if only it were that easy! There are more than a few unknowns.

Ausra’s solar power plants use the sun’s heat to generate electricity for the same price of natural-gas power plant — but only if you account for the 30 percent tax credit for renewable energy projects. Right, the one that’s set to expire by the end of this year.

Ausra is also building a solar thermal manufacturing plant in the Las Vegas desert, and tells CNET that two-third of its revenues are expected to come from equipment sales. So Ausra seems pretty sure that its solar thermal designs are the best way to go, despite the fact that the company’s technology competes with tech from Stirling Energy Systems, Solel, SkyFuel and BrightSource, among others.

Ausra could also struggle to raise that much cash, given the projects are inherently risky. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Google didn’t give a hand to the Valley-backed group. Google actually intends to fund high-risk solar thermal projects, and’s director of climate and energy Initiatives, Dan Reicher, recently called a lack of funding for these projects the “Valley of Death.” Hopefully Ausra doesn’t stumble into that one.

3 Responses to “Ausra Hot on the Trail of More Cash”

  1. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.