Ausra: Financial Markets Could Effect Utility Solar Projects


Ausra has been one of the most high-profile solar startups to get backing from Silicon Valley, but being funded by cleantech heavyweights Khosla, Kleiner and most recently Al Gore’s investment group doesn’t necessarily shield it from the uncertainty of the financial markets. Like many of its cleantech peers, the company has to consider what it will do if the financial markets don’t calm down over the next year.

If all goes well in the financial markets next year, Ausra’s executive VP and chief commercial officer, Glen Davis, says the company will raise project financing to build a solar plant that could cost between $600 million and $800 million; California utility PG&E has committed to buy the solar power from that plant in a power purchase agreement. Ausra could theoretically start construction on that plant in the second half of next year and have it initially producing power 12 to 15 months later — if everything falls into place. While the current financial downturn won’t necessarily effect the timeline of the project that will sell power to PG&E, raising financing and keeping on schedule could prove difficult depending on the markets, Davis says.

Of course it’s not unusual that startups are bracing for the worst, particularly when hundreds of millions in financing is needed. Already the months of delay by congress to renew the tax credits for clean power, which were passed earlier this month, caused a delay in solar companies’ plant plans. Davis says “most solar contracts had some period of slip with the delay of passing the ITC…. Our timeline was affected.” Pulling together all of the pieces of these solar systems in a commercial scale “is a big task,” he explains.

In the meantime Ausra is already in the process of building a pilot facility, dubbed Kimberlina, near Bakersfield, Calif., which will start producing power before the end of the month. Kimberlina will have four lines of solar thermal equipment installed that will include the companies latest developments for its receivers, its mirror design and accompanying support structures. Ausra also turned on its factory in Las Vegas in June that will produce reflectors and is already selling solar thermal systems to industrial and commercial companies that will use the steam for various purposes.


Nick Panchev

We knew of the inevitable at end of 2006. (Same inevitable that occurred in 1991, thereafter SEGS-IX, the last for a decade and half).
Nevada’s solar and that 5MWe could also be the last of the IPPs, construed as the conclusive event of 2008 and the final for this millennium, the FPL’s 2010 event; the end of all.
Indubitably due to:
1.Siting of solar farms, whether on BLM’s administered land, or on a privately owned, that turned-out to be a “Grande Fiasco”.
2.IOUs quest to develop-own-operate, right after the solar boys gets permitting, was already evident by their Renewables RFO’s platform.
3.Unless, the Private Equity Firms demand return of their initial rounds from those several solar boys, having no other alternatives, but to go trough the FSAs, the IOUs have to take over the conclusion of the permitting. (Possible, just about break-even, at best, if the solar boys obtain the permitting and EXIT; for good).
4.Thereafter, most likely by 2010, the RPS may be trashed-out and the IOUs can continue their status quo; business as usual.
5.In lieu thereof funding pilot projects, based upon several viable disruptive technology by the in-the-box out of their garages solar boys, the Rulers of the Status Quo blow it out to the Universities, the Labs, bunch of “Proclaimed Socrates” and not limited to those non-profits 501(c)(3)??? ESQs, being some of the reasons for today’s commenced exiting with irreparable harm. (It is also believed, that Nostradamus may had some scripts about the Environs-for-profit (50…..0000(nothing) and their respective Intervenors ESQs, predicting that they have to look elsewhere for-profits in 2010, the beginning of the “Great California Blackouts”)
6.It is also believed, that there were certain scripts by Nostradamus, mentioning about the “Science Revolution of 2010”, which included today’s RPS and short lived tech’s modeling, which are to be just on paper, like his scripts, not limited to Governmental Agencies consolidation, which can not foster the implementation of the Science Revolution, due to outcome of the predicted then final 2010 financial crash.
7.The Stimulus Plan will not prolong the inevitable exiting of Renewable and Alternative energy’s IPPs; long gone by 2010 (Read the small print, as well as in-between), unless the Obama’s Administration, Legislature, Congress and the House, not limited to the DOE’s Dr. Chu presiding, come-up with a drastic changes in the Bill, fostering comfort zone (Near-zero Risk Factor) to those major Fund of Funds/Hedge Funds and some of the SRI’s bailed-out Wall Streeters, for the real rounds; construction of Renewable/Alternative energy’s electric power generating facilities.
8.The Era of the Hybrids. To alleviate black-outs in California (identical to the 2001, if not more severe, ask CA ISO for 2010 Modeling ) and other Western States, the IOUs will be scrambling for these 50MWe Peakers, particularly if the RPS is to remain, instead of trashed-out, praying for the “150MWe Super Peakers”, consisting of about 20% of total nameplate worth of Renewables, integrated with at least 40% recovered energy, in synergy with the residual 40% by the old mighty natural gas-fired.

Adios Solares Muchachos.
May be, may be not, we see you in Baja California, Mexico. No solar-thermal there. No Renewables, nor Fresnel, nor Power Towers there either. Just Super Hybrid Complexes (diesel-fired with seawater desals and with plenty of red tomatoes in the Super Greenhouses; you got to eat vegetables; do you? It is good for your health.

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