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Will Solar Thermal Startup Brightsource Energy after raising $420 million go down like Solyndra

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Solar Thermal Startup Brightsource Energy has managed to raise $420 million in multiple rounds of financing from top PE firms as well as Alstom.The latest round being $100 million as it moves to start its first plant at Ivanpah which has got the backing of the US government.The  Ivanpah plant got a further boost when NRG Energy,USA’s largest renewable energy utility invested $300 million of its money into the plant.Note Solar Thermal Technology is facing a huge challenge from the falling costs of Solar PV Technology.Low cost Chinese production has led to a dramatic fall in Solar Energy costs leading to a Solar Boom in 2009 and 2010.Recently Tessera Energy with two Solar Thermal Plants in the US approved by the government was forced to sell one of its plants while the second remains in limbo.

Solyndra is one of the most hyped solar startups which has managed to raise $1 billion in funding and coming out with surprisingly little for the money.Not only did it postpone its IPO but also shut down its first factory as prices keep diving faster than it can cut costs.Brightsource Energy on the other hand seems to have a brighter future with its unique CSP technology.Also with backers like Alstom and Bechtel,it has the heavy engineering support to construct the massive 392 MW plant.Note other Solar Thermal startups like Ausra and Soliel Systems were bought up by giant engineering conglomerates Areva and Siemens.Brightsource along with eSolar remain the only pureplay CSP companies still surviving.

Solar Firm BrightSource Raising $100M

BrightSource has been on an all-out fundraising mission over the past few months. The company set out to raise $215.5 million in equity and options and closed about $176 million of that in summer 2010, according to a filing. That was one of the biggest fundraising rounds in all of VC last year.

At the time, the round was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Morgan Stanley and VantagePoint Venture Partners, and included new investor Alstom (a provider of equipment and services for power generation), which will become “one of the main shareholders” in BrightSource, the company told us.The Department of Energy announced a $1.37 billion loan guarantee for BrightSource to build its Ivanpah project.


Abhishek Shah

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