eSolar, a startup that claims to leverage algorithms and software to bring down the cost of solar power thermal plants, has signed its second licensing and investment deal in as many weeks. These deals prove promising for the startup as the company has been pretty quiet about the details of its technology. The Pasadena, Calif.-based solar thermal developer said today that India’s Acme Group has signed an exclusive agreement to build up to 1 gigawatt of solar thermal power in India using eSolar’s technology, with Acme making a $30 million equity investment in the solar startup.
Acme, which has interests in wireless telecom infrastructure, energy, and wastewater treatment, will build, own and operate the solar thermal plants, and eSolar said Acme has already signed power purchase agreements for 250 MW of power. Construction of the first 100 MW is expected to start later this year, with the entire 1 GW to be built over the next 10 years.
The agreement marks eSolar’s first international licensing deal, and the solar thermal company, backed by Idealab, Google.org, and Oak Investment Partners, is eager for more. “We are committed to working with the very best partners, such as Acme, to scale deployment as quickly as possible around the world,” said Bill Gross, CEO of eSolar and founder and CEO of Idealab, in a statement. He told the Green Wombat blog that eSolar would like also to license its technology in Spain, Australia and the Middle East.
Last week, eSolar signed another deal with Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy, with NRG putting $10 million into eSolar in return for rights for up to 500 MW of projects in development in California and the Southwest U.S. One of the projects in that package is eSolar’s deal from last year with Southern California Edison for 245 MW of solar thermal power in Antelope Valley in Southern California. That plant is expected to start operations in 2011.
eSolar, which uses concentrating solar power technology, is already at work in Antelope Valley, building its first commercial demonstration plant in Lancaster, Calif. The 5 MW plant will have a field of sun-tracking mirrors that reflect the solar heat onto a thermal receiver that’s mounted on top of a central power tower.