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Brightsource Energy – Understanding this Solar Thermal Company – Technology,Competitors (eSolar),Ivanpah,When will it IPO Stock List

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Brightsource Energy,the Solar Thermal Startup has been making huge progress getting high profile investors and managing a $1.37 billion DOE grant for its Ivanpah 392 MW Solar Thermal Power Plant.The Company has managed to get its billion dollar Ivanpah Project financed through equity investments from NRG Energy and Google.It is now looking set to do an IPO which  would allow its Stock to List and gain further funds for expansion in USA,China and India.Note I don’t think Solar Thermal Technology is managing to compete effectively with the fast declining costs of Solar Photovoltaic Technology.However there still exists a niche area for Solar Thermal Companies and Technology.Note there are a number of Solar Thermal Companies fighting for the No.1 Position which includes giants like Siemens,Areva,Abengoa and startups like eSolar.Which one of these companies will be succesful in the face of the Solar PV Onslaught is a matter of debate.However Brightsource has certainly stole a march through smart funding.Here is what you want to know about  Brightsource Energy

Brightsource Energy Technology

BrightSource Energy’s proprietary LPT 550 energy system uses heliostats (mirrors) to focus Solar Energy to a Power Tower.The Heat in the Power Tower is converted to Steam which powers Steam Turbines just like a conventional Thermal Power Plant.Thousands of Heliostats are controlled by Computers and they Track the Movement of the Sun throughout the Day to maximize the Power Output.Note most of the top Management of Brightsource is drawn from the Luz Industris which built the massive 354 MW SEGs Solar Thermal Plant in Los Angeles in the 1980s and which is still the largest Solar Thermal Power Plant in the world.LUZ II was founded by Mr. Arnold Goldman, who was also the founder of the original Luz.In December 2008, Luz II changed its name to BrightSource Industries (Israel), Ltd. (BSII)

Brightsource has no commercial CSP Plant working till now though it has a pilot plant called Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel with 4 MW capacity.

Brightsource Energy Investors

BrightSource Energy has raised more than $300 million in financing from top companies worldwide.Here is a list of those companies.

  1. BP
  2. Alstom
  3. Google
  4. Statoil
  5. Chevron.

The company has also got PE and VC investors like Draper Fisher,Vantage Point,Calstrs,Blackriver and DBL

Ivanpah Solar Thermal Plant

The 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) is being built in  California’s Mojave Desert.The Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Project is being builtapproximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California (about five miles from the California-Nevada border) on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s LPT 550 technology.

a) NRG Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, will be making an investment of up to $300 million over the next three years, joining BrightSource in the construction, ownership, and operation of Ivanpah.

Initial Public Offering (IPO) Plans

In 2010, BrightSource hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to begin preparations for a public offering that is likely to happen in 2011. Its fourth round of equity financing in May netted $150 million, bringing total equity financing to $330 million to date.There has been no official word about the IPO or when the stock listing might happen.However the support of Google and NextEra plus the DOE Loan Guarantee should really push forward the date of a Brightsource IPO.

List of BrightSource Competitors

Solar Millennium – The company is one of the most aggressive players in the Solar Thermal Energy Sector.The company is in the process of building CSP plants in Africa,Europe,India and USA.This German company has won several project approvals to build CSP plants in Califronia through its JV Solar Trust with Ferrostaal Inc.The company has running plants at Andasol in Spain.In 2009, Solar Millennium entered into a joint venture with Suryachakra Power Venture for joint development of solar power projects in India.The company uses parabolic tough technology and is able to provide a turnkey solution from Technology to Design to EPC.

Abengoa – Abengoa is one of the most well known suppliers of Solar Thermal Equipment in the world and is a proven developer of large scale Solar Plants in Spain and USA.This Spanish giant has signed a JV with India’s largest capital equipment company BHEL to manufacture components for Solar Thermal Plants..t has managed to win a large DOE grant for constructing another large Solar Thermal Plant in the USA.It has also signed a JV with Abu Dhabi promoted Masdar to build a 100 MW Shams 1 plant near Madinet Zayed in UAE

Areva – Another Giant Global Electrical Equipment Conglomerate which entered the Solar Thermal Energy area by acquiring a struggling CSP startup Ausra.The company is planning like the others to make a major investment of around $3 billion to build 1000 MW capacity in India.The company is the biggest nuclear equipment supplier in the world and has interests in biomass energy as well.

Siemens – The world’s largest green company is quite weak in the Solar Energy area.Like other conglomerates and competitor Areva,it acquired Israeli CSP company Solel Energy to make its foray into the Solar Thermal Energy sector.The company is looking to expand in India where the JNNSM has given equal importance to Solar Thermal Technology.

Acciona – Acciona the Spanish Renewable Energy Giant is one the most experienced  in the Solar Thermal Category.The company has not been aggressively expanding in the CSP category lately.It recently backed out of bidding for the Solar Flagships program in Australia.The company built one of the large solar thermal plants in the US named Nevada Solar One in the 1980s.

eSolar – eSolar is one of the most exciting startups in the US Solar Technology.The company uses a unique Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Technology which utilizes small, flat mirrors which track the sun with high precision and reflect the sun’s heat to a tower-mounted receiver, which boils water to create steam. This steam powers a traditional turbine and generator to produce solar electricity.The comany has won contracts to build its CSP plants in USA,Greece and China.

SolarReserve is a US company which uses  integrated molten salt thermal energy storage technology in conjunction with solar power towers licensed from United Technologies Corporation (UTC).The company has got approvals to build CSP plants in Arizona and California.The company has tied up with Chinese solar wafer giant GCL to build solar projects across the USA and holds 1100 MW of projects in development.


Abhishek Shah

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