The US based solar thermal technology developer BrightSource Energy and its biggest shareholder, the European energy giant Alstom, say they are targeting Australia for new opportunities after another fund raising for the company.
Brightsource raised $80 million from Alston and other shareholders, which inclue, as it continues construction of the world’s largest solar thermal plant, the 370MW Ivanpah facility in California.
That plant will be completed next year, and Brightsource and Alstom hope this will then trigger opportunities to develop projects elsewhere. Australia and India were singled out as having the best solar resources for its solar tower technology, which is developing storage options. Africa and the Mediterranean ring have also been targeted.
Brightsource was an applicant in the ill-fated Solar Flagships program but failed to make the shortlist. However, Australia is considered a prime market for solar thermal technologies. The International Energy Agency says that solar thermal technology, also known as concentrated solar power, could supply 11.3 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2050.
Alstom said the injection of another $40 million into Brighstource would take its stake to more than 20 per cent. It comes after one of its biggest energy supply rivals, the German company Siemens, announced this week that its solar investments, which included the solar thermal technology developer Solon, would be sold.
“We strongly believe in the development and future competitiveness of the solar tower technology,” said Jerome Pecresse, the head of Alstom’s renewable power division.
“This new investment reinforces solar thermal power’s position at the heart of Alstom’s strategy which is to provide leading sustainable renewable power solutions also spanning hydro, wind, geothermal, ocean and biomass.”
Brightsource CEO John Woolard said the successful fund raising reflected confidence that solar thermal would meet the world’s growing demand for cost-effective, clean and reliable energy sources.”
Many solar thermal developments have been put on hold because developers have opted instead for cheaper solar PV installations to enhance their returns. However, solar thermal is considered essential to provide storage of heat and the ability to dispatch energy when required and meet peak demand.