NewEnergyNews: MORE BIG BUCKS TO SOLAR POWER PLANTS

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    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    MORE BIG BUCKS TO SOLAR POWER PLANTS

    eSolar gained national notoriety when it won $10 million in funding from the Google Foundation late last year, part of Google’s drive to make solar and other renewable energy-generated electricity as cheap as coal-fired power plant-generated electricity. Google calls its program RE < C (Renewable Energy less than Coal).

    All the competing solar power plant concepts have unique features. eSolar’s is its simplicity and modularity. Its 33-megawatt units (up from an earlier 25-megawatt concept) are highly durable and transportable, easily and quickly assembled and have the potential for expansion by the addition of more 33-megawatt units.

    eSolar claims its modularity bypasses many of the complexities of other big power plant installations while retaining economies of scale: “eSolar has replaced expensive steel, concrete, and brute force with inexpensive computing power and elegant algorithms. This new method of installing a solar power plant minimizes costly civil construction and the use of heavy equipment, dramatically reducing project cost and deployment time.”

    eSolar’s $130 million total venture funding goes way beyond what Google provided and indicates the huge building interest in the solar power plant concept.


    click to enlarge

    eSolar raises $130M for power plants
    Matt Nauman, April 22, 2008 (San Jose Mercury News)
    and
    eSolar Announces Breakthrough Pre-Fabricated Solar Power Plants; Raises $130 million from IdeaLab, Oak, Google to Accelerate Deployment
    April 21, 2008 (eSolar)

    WHO
    eSolar (Bill Gross, Chairman and Asif Ansari, CEO and Rob Rogan, executive vp of corporate development); Google.org; Idealab (Bill Gross, Founder); Oak Investment Partners (Bandel Carano, Managing Partner); Ausra; BrightSource Energy

    The eSolar power plant - modular, expandable systems. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    eSolar announced it has raised $130 million in venture capital for the development of its unique solar power plant concept.

    WHEN
    eSolar, founded in 2007, will begin operating one of its plants later in 2008.

    Schematic of the power tower concept. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - eSolar is based in Pasadena, CA. Its modular solar power plant units are signed for installation near towns or cities.
    - Ausra is based in Palo Alto, CA.
    - BrightSource Energy is based in Oakland, CA.
    - Google.org is based in Mountain View, CA.

    WHY
    - BrightSource Energy is constructing 5 plants totaling a 900 megawatt capacity in the Mojave Desert at a cost of $2 to $3 billion.
    - The eSolar prototype installation will be at an as yet undisclosed location in Southern California. The company owns rights for land and transmission of up to 1 gigawatt of solar power.
    - eSolar’s modular units are 33 megawatts. They can be assembled into 500 megawatt or larger installations. They are designed to be inexpensive, easily shipped and installed, and durable.
    - eSolar describes 33 megawatts as adequate to power 25,000 homes.

    A real world prototype installation. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Rogan, vice president: "The key attribute of our technology is that it's economical at that smaller size…We can build those massive developments, but we also can build smaller developments closer to where power is consumed."
    - Asif Ansari, CEO: “The eSolar™ power plant is based on mass manufactured components, and designed for rapid construction, uniform modularity, and unlimited scalability…Rather than over-engineering the solution, eSolar’s smart scalable solar architechture targets what we see as the four key business obstacles facing the sector: price, scalability, rapid deployment, and grid impact.”
    - Bandel Carano, Managing Partner, Oak Investment Partners: “eSolar is the only cost effective solution that can deliver gigawatts of solar energy generation at market prices today, because they have developed a truly disruptive scalable solution that can be deployed rapidly.”

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