BrightSource Energy Readies $250 Million IPO to Expand Solar Thermal

brightsource solar thermal power photo

Photo: Brightsource
A Hot Stock?
Brightsource Energy, a company that is backed by Google, among others, is trying to raise money to expand its solar thermal operations in the Southwest of the USA. They've filled the paperwork kwith the Securities and Exchange Commission last week to sell stock in an initial public offering (IPO) that should raise $250 million.
brightsource solar thermal power photo

Photo: Brightsource
The IPO would be the first for a solar-thermal power systems maker in almost a decade, according to New Energy Finance data. EnviroMission, based in Victoria, Australia, filed for its IPO in August 2001. It has a license to build tower-based solar-thermal power stations, though it hasn't yet erected a utility-scale project. [...]

BrightSource promotes solar-thermal as superior to photovoltaic because energy can be stored. That gives the plants a more stable output of power, making them more attractive to grid operators.

Both PV and solar-thermal systems like BrightSource's currently produce electricity at a cost of about 17.5 cents a kilowatt hour in ideal environments, without incentives, New Energy Finance estimates, and the cost of solar PV power may decline by about half in the next decade. Electricity from coal costs about 7 cents a kilowatt hour compared with 6 cents for natural gas. (source)

That point about storing power is very important. It's easier to store heat (as molten salt, for example) than to store electricity directly if it comes from solar PV. That's the big challenge with clean power; how do we store the energy for use when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow? It's possible to mitigate the problem with a smart grid that covers a large geographical area, but that on its own is not quite enough. Solar thermal power with storage can help.

See also: Google Invests $168 Million in 392MW Mojave Desert Solar Thermal Plant

Via Mercury News
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