Solar Leader BrightSource Energy Going Public

Solar energy is gaining a new economic benefit: the public has opportunity to invest in it for their personal prosperity.  According to this Earth & Industry article, BrightSource, the company leading "the biggest solar project," went public on Earth Day 2011 and intends to raise $250 million off the stock market.  Google has already put $168 million towards the BrightSource project, and soon we will see if stock market investors also see opportunity in solar investment.

 

Posted 5.5.2011 on Earth & Industry

by Zachary Shahan

 

Ivanpah

BrightSource, one of the world's leading solar power startups, is going public.

Not familiar with BrightSource? It is the company developing "the biggest solar project" in the world, the one Google just dropped $168 million on and the U.S. Department of Energy dished out $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for. The project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, will have a power capacity of 392 MW, enough to power approximately 140,000 homes according to BrightSource Energy’s utility power purchase agreement.

BrightSource Energy now intends to raise $250 million off the stock market to help implement several more utility-scale solar power projects. You can view BrightSource's S-1 document (submitted on Earth Day, April 22, with the SEC) for a ton more information (it's 148 pages long, plus Appendices).

Not many solar startups have gone public and it will be interesting to see how investors respond to it and how it does.

 

BrightSource's Promise

BrightSource's business model is focused around selling its equipment and solar projects that it constructs using its innovative concentrating solar thermal systems. It's solar project design is one of the most promising for utility-scale solar that could really cut into the world's fossil fuel addiction. The Oakland-based company reportedly has 14 power purchase agreements with a total worth of approximately 2.6 gigawatts of capacity signed with California utilities. It also owns 110,000 of land suitable for its concentrating solar thermal power plants in California and the Southwest.

 

BrightSource's Challenges & Risks

Of course, no company, especially a solar startup, is challenge- or risk-free. A few notable challenges BrightSource is facing (which it includes in its S-1) include:

  • a dependency on government policies that support clean solar power (which should be a given, but you know what country we're in)
  • large capital financing needs
  • lengthy environmental reviews

 

Is BrightSource Going to be a Success?

If I were a stock market investor, I definitely think I'd put some money into BrightSource stock. It is providing a highly-needed power plant option that I think will only grow in its attractiveness and need. It has done a good job of improving the technology and design over the past few years. And, clearly, Google (which has invested more into Ivanpah than any other clean energy project), NRG Solar (another investor in this project), and the Department of Energy believe in it.

Your thoughts?

h/t CNET News

Image via BrightSource Energy/Ivanpah Solar

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