Playing with the Big Boys
The solar thermal startup Ausra, which we've written about in the past, has just been bought by the French public mega-conglomerate Areva for an unknown amount. Ausra's solar technology is particularly desirable because they are storing part of the heat generated by the sun during the day so that they can keep producing electricity even when the sun doesn't shine.
I see this as a good sign for the capital-intensive solar thermal market. Projections have it growing at around 20% per year for the next decade, but depending on a few things (price of oil, carbon taxes, major climate events, new scientific discoveries, etc), solar could potentially expand even faster than that (or slower, if we're unlucky).
Areva is huge and has the muscle to make really big solar projects happen. This kind of concentrating solar thermal with storage needs to be proven reliable before other companies and governments will invest more in it. And if it doesn't work, the faster we know about it, the faster we can solve the problems or move on to something else. Now's the time to make it happen, Areva.
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