PG&E upgrades BrightSource deal
May 13, 2009 - Cleantech.com
Series of seven solar thermal projects
in California are expected to power more than half
a million homes in 'largest solar deal in the world.'
San Francisco-based utility Pacific
Gas & Electric (NYSE: PCG) said today it has signed
seven deals with Oakland, Calif.'s BrightSource Energy
for solar thermal projects totalling 1.31 gigawatts.
The deal is inclusive of the five previously
announced solar thermal projects totalling 900 megawatts
(see PG&E to get 900 MW of solar thermal from BrightSource).
PG&E said the agreement represents the
largest solar deal in the world. The first of the
seven deals, a 110 MW plan in Ivanpah, Calif., is
expected to come online in 2012.
BrightSource plans to secure project
financing in the second half of this year.
BrightSource is among the companies
taking the power-tower approach to solar thermal.
Its competitors in that technology include Abengoa
Solar, Sener, eSolar and SolarReserve—with all taking
vastly different approaches to heliostat sizes and
The power-tower technology promises
higher thermodynamic efficiency and scalability than
trough-based CST but is still being proven in field
testing. Trough developers include Solar Millennium
and Solel (see Cleantech Group picks winners and losers
in concentrated solar thermal).
BrightSource has raised more than $160
million in backing from investors including BP Alternative
Energy, StatoilHydro Venture, Black River, VantagePoint
Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, DBL Investors, Draper
Fisher Jurvetson, Chevron Technology Ventures, and
Google (see Google gets into more solar and Google
admits VC rumors).
PG&E has signed other high-profile solar
deals that aren't materializing as planned.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Ausra has long-term
plans to fulfill its contract for a 177 MW solar thermal
plant but is concentrating on generating immediate
revenue by selling solar thermal components (see Ausra
shaves staff as it chases immediate revenue and Ausra
scores $25.5M for new equipment sales focus). Meanwhile,
Hayward, Calif.-based OptiSolar sold its pipeline
of projects to First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR), including
the $1 billion, 550-MW thin-film solar plant under
a power-purchase agreement with PG&E (see First Solar
buys OptiSolar's pipeline of projects for $400M and
PG&E mega solar deal sparks industry).
In April, PG&E requested approval from
the California Public Utilities Commission to enter
into a power purchase agreement with Solaren for a
solar array in space (see Solaren's plan from outer