Saturday, April 5, 2008

BrightSource Energy signs large solar deal with PG&E

BrightSource Energy announced this week that it has entered into a series of contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for renewable solar power. The first three contracts are for a total of 500 megawatts (MW) of power to be supplied from three solar thermal electric generating projects. PG&E also signed two contracts for options on an additional 400 MW of solar power, which would bring the total amount of power purchased under these five agreements to 900 MW.

This is one of the largest solar thermal power deals to date. Building the five plants will cost between $2 billion to $3 billion, and Morgan Stanley will reportedly lead the financing of the first plant.

According to Earth2Tech, the plants will use BrightSource’s power tower design, which includes an array of mirrors that reflect the sun’s light onto a central receiver full of water, creating steam and powering a turbine. The plants, the first of which could come online as early as 2011, are to be built in the Mojave Desert.

Luz II, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy, provides product development and engineering, project engineering and management, and solar field manufacturing and supply services to BrightSource's plants. Luz II is headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.

Brightsource COO and Luz II president Israel Kroizer, in an interview with "Globes", says that if PG&E exercises its options, BrightSource's solar power stations will provide 2.7% of the company's electricity supply.

Luz II is apparently due to launch a commercial pilot of its solar thermal power station at Rotem Industries Ltd. in Dimona in the Negev in a few weeks. The station will generate a few megawatts of solar thermal energy.

Privately held, BrightSource Energy is headquartered in Oakland, California. Its principle investors include: VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, J.P. Morgan, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

Last July, PG&E also agreed to buy 553 megawatts of solar power from Solel's Mojave solar park, which is under construction and due to begin operating in 2011. Solel, based in Beit Shemesh, is another leading developer of solar thermal energy technology.