11 Solar Thermal Companies Powering Up

48 Comments

California’s Mojave desert sure is getting crowded as more and more companies are raising money in an effort to build large solar power plants to harness the sun’s heat. Yesterday, eSolar said it had raised a massive $130 million from the likes of Google and Idealab for its small-scale solar thermal designs, while Stirling also said it had raised $100M from Irish renewable energy developer NTR for its SunCatcher solar thermal dishes. And this morning Infinia, which makes Stirling engines for solar thermal, said it had raised $57 million in a second round of funding.

Is there really enough room for these three, plus five other startups and three large renewable energy players? There are 2.5GW of solar thermal projects with announced power purchase agreements in California and Arizona slated for construction in the next few years, according to Nat Bullard, an analyst at New Energy Finance. Here’s a rundown of the solar thermal players making land and sun grabs in the Southwest.

eSolar: With a fresh $130 million from Google, Idealab and Oak, eSolar says it has “secured land rights” in the southwestern United States to produce over 1 GW of power and will have a power plant up and running later this year in southern California. The company uses a central power tower surrounded by smaller-than-usual heliostats, allowing the company to build 25 MW clusters.

Ausra: Ausra has attracted a lot of media attention for both its rapid expansion from Australia to the States and its big name investors, Khosla and Kleiner, who’ve invested $70 million — and Ausra is already looking for $150 million in Series C. Ausra’s Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology uses cheap, flat mirrors to heat tubes of water. The startup has plans for a manufacturing facility near Las Vegas and has signed a power purchase agreement with PG&E for 177 MW from Ausra’s farm in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

Stirling Energy Systems: Stirling has two large pending projects. Solar One in the Mojave Desert will have 500 MW of capacity, with the option to expand to 850 MW while Solar Two, sited in the Imperial Valley near El Centro, Calif., will have 300 MW of capacity with the option to expand up to 900 MW. Each site is contracted for a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, respectively. It also just raised a whopping $100 million from NTR plc.

Infinia: With 25 years of Stirling engine experience, Infinia has a gaggle of A-list backers including Vinod Khosla’s Khosla Ventures, Bill Gross’ Idealab and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital; it’s raised $66.5 million to date. Infinia’s technology is similar to Stirling’s and uses mirrored concentrator dishes to track the sun and reflect its rays into a highly efficient Stirling heat engine.

SolarReserve: Spun out from aerospace giant Hamilton Sundstrand, itself a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., SolarReserve is one of the most recent entrants. Its technology, developed by rocket maker Rocketdyne, uses molten salt to store energy and produce power round the clock. SolarReserve plans to have its first solar plant online by the end of 2010. SolarReserve has not disclosed any outside investors or funding but is working with DOE money.

Solel: With a massive $105 million investment from Ecofin, Solel has recently announced a plans for a $140 million construction facility in Spain. The company has an agreement with PG&E for 553 MW from Solel’s Mojave Solar Park which uses parabolic trough technology and is scheduled for completion in 2011. Solel’s parabolic trough technology has been around for decades and has been used in test plants for 20 years.

BrightSource: Based in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource just signed a massive deal wit PG&E for 500 MW of solar thermal power with option for another 400 MW (totally 900 MW). BrightSource, with its Israeli subsidiary, has an impressive list of investors — VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, J.P. Morgan, and Chevron Technology Ventures — but has announced less than $50 million in funding. BrightSource’s technology uses a central power tower surrounded by heliostats in what it calls “solar power clusters,” each of which can produce 100 MW of energy.

SkyFuel: Using parabolic-trough technology, SkyFuel says its secret lies in its cheap “ReflecTech” mirrored lining, which it says is stronger and cheaper than glass and mirrors. We’re still waiting to hear about SkyFuel’s projects, but last we heard G.C. Andersen Partners was leading a second round of financing for the Albuquerque, N.M.-based startup.

Abengoa Solar: Part of Spanish renewable energy giant Abengoa, this solar subsidiary has signed on to provide 280 MW of solar thermal power to Arizona Public Service from a plant near Gila Bend, Ariz., scheduled for completion in 2011.

FPL Energy: FPL has just filed for a 250 MW plant in the Mojave with plans to scale it up to 850 MW by 2015. The plant, called the Beacon Solar Energy Project, will use parabolic-trough technology. FPL, along with Carlyle and Sunray, also have a 354 MW Solar Energy Generating Systems plant. FPL operates natural gas, wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants.

Acciona: Another Spanish renewable energy player, Acciona has a 64 MW plant called Nevada Solar One outside Las Vegas that was one of the first large-scale solar thermal plants in the United States.

Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

48 Comments

Solavision Fnd

I have just lodged pattents for a new type of solar thermal energy that is low cost, can work at the power station or domestic level where it will also produce hot water and AC Hot and Cold Air. The system will operate 24/7 in hot and cold climates. It produces many times more kwh than any other product on the market and is cheaper to produce and operate. I seek a capital partner or buyer for the technology.

jahnavi

Hello Solavision Fnd,
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best regards,
Jahnavi

Mr. Prince Adeniyi

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Mr Mohammed Alpha
Email:[email protected] or [email protected]

Ola Ahmed

Attention: The President/CEO

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

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Walt

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evansdadah

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Johannesburg,
South Africa.
Tell-27-837-621-754

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Best Regards
Mr. Evans Dadah.
(For the family our heritance

G J Adroja

We propose to set up 2Mw Solar power plant in western India.Enough land is available.
Please let us know requirement of land/ Mw and cost per Mw as well as names of technology suppliers.
Please reply
G J Adroja

Solar Power

I wonder if the UK will have a bigger initiative on using solar power. Makes such sound sense to let private individuals along with such companies making an effort to provide such alternative energy to people.

I’d advocate self generation but that would mean a company selling knowledge and equipment rather than becoming an energy solution for an area. :)

I wonder how these companies will do during the credit crisis? :S

thaienergy

Dear Mr.David Tan

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We have agreement contract of Province Electricity goverment of Thailand for suply power
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   Are your invest to joint the our project value loan 2,250,0000 - 2,300,000 USD.?

If you have investment project in Thailand. Please coferm me by e-mail and msn and recieve
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                                   Best Regard
                                    Mr. Uthai  Duangjam

                                    Piyakunchok Co.,Ltd.

                                    [email protected]
B R Atkins

We hope that all the solar companies convert to Germanium, and other metals which was just discovered to have a 46% rating to convert solar to electricity. Silicon, Tellerium,Indium, Gallium, ect have only a 20 to 22 % efficiency. Texas Copper LLC, our Company has just discovered the largest Germanium deposit possible in the world, The assay is 200 PPM Germanium, There is no Copper, Lead or Zinc in this material. all of the other Minerals, Major minerals we can sell and make a profit without the Germanium.in 3 Years we can be producing 75 to 100 tons of Germanium per year. so there will never be a shortage of Germanium.We will be registered with the Texas secetary of state within a week or two. If you need all the Germanium you waunt, get in touch.

Vince Beazel

As moderator of EnergyTalk LIVE at BTR; hosted by AlternativeEnergy.com site, I would like to find reps from these companies to support putting energytalk in every school or community center in every region.

All of the tools and tech support are provided through our company, and we are helping to create training for trainers courses in partnership with Green Mechanical Council and members and organizers of the pickens plan; which has topped 100,000 members in its first month! Push.PickensPlan.com/profiles/members

With Al Gore’s challenge for 100% renewables in ten years, and Obama’s support for Pickens Plan, the opposition to clean energy in taking a holiday…time to change the locks on the capitol buildings!

Rory Gawler

This does seem to give a ray (pun intended) of hope… Now, if the price of oil would just climb a little higher… preferably with the HELP of the government, not despite their interventions.

Gas tax!

TANG

Really great article! In-Depth, articulate, and just in time for Earth Day!

Uncle B

At last, the oil barons are challenged by technology, sustainable, renewable technology. They will never be able to hold the progress of the U.S. economy ransom again thanks to science and good old American know-how!

Comments are closed.