Ausra Gets a Piece of 100MW Solar Thermal Plant in Jordan

Ausra_homepicIt looks like Ausra’s plan to sell components, instead of building large solar-power plants on its own, has started rolling. Ausra on Wednesday announced it has been selected to supply a critical component, a solar steam boiler, for a 100MW concentrated solar thermal power project being developed in Ma’an, Jordan.

The solar thermal startup, backed by Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, earlier this year said it would build smaller plants with capacities somewhere around 50 megawatts –- in addition to those with compared to previously planned capacities of more than 100 megawatts -– and also would sell equipment for industrial steam production and hybrid fossil-fuel systems. But while t The strategy to supply gear for other projects is moving forward as planned, we have to wonder why with the developer of the Jordan plant, MENA Cleantech buying the solar-thermal system as part of its power plant. , decided to buy only the boiler from Ausra, and not the whole system.

The project, called JOAN1, will also include a backup fossil-fuel boiler to guarantee 24-hour dispatchable electric power, a move that might be intended to make the project more appealing to utilities and financiers. Of course, Ausra had already been successful at attracting a utility partner, Pacific Gas and Electric, for its 177-megawatt California project back in 2007. That didn’t keep the project from apparently stalling in the permitting process for a lack of financing.

JOAN1 is scheduled to begin operating in 2013, after closing financing in the fourth quarter of 2010 and beginning construction in early 2011, according to Ausra. While Ausra has successfully raised equity financing, announcing raising $60.6 million last year, project financing has remained scarce. As conditions improve, let’s hope MENA is able to attract financing and get the project done more quickly than the one in California. has better luck attracting financing next year than Ausra did last year.