BrightSource Energy has raised roughly $122.5 million in equity and options so far of that round, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

BrightSource Energy has upped its latest fundraising goal from $100 million last December to $125 million and plans to use the money for both U.S. concentrated solar energy projects and international expansion.

BrightSource Energy has raised roughly $122.5 million in equity and options so far of that round, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. BrightSource has been working with one of its investors, Alstom, on developing projects in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Alstom, a French power plant equipment supplier, invested $55 million in BrightSource last year.

BrightSource has been an aggressive fundraiser over the past year. It set out to raise $215.5 million and nabbed $176 million by last September. Talks of doing an initial public offering also have been simmering in the past year, though the company has declined to talk about it.

BrightSource, founded in 2006, plans to use the new round of money also for its U.S. projects, which are clustered in the southwest. The money will be used for projects other than the 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project that it began construction in California’s Mojave Desert last October, Wachs told us. The project, once up and running, will use some of the electricity it generates onsite, so it expects to deliver 370 MW to utility customers.

The Ivanpah project, which is made up of three power plants, was one of the nine concentrating solar thermal power projects approved by the California Energy Commission last year. NRG Energy has committed to invest up to $300 million in the project and become the project’s largest stakeholder. The bulk of the project’s funding should come from a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy, which offered the $1.37 billion guarantee more than a year ago.

BrightSource can use the guarantee to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank, just as many other loan guarantee recipients, such as Abengoa Solar, have done. BrightSource expects to finalize the loan guarantee agreement with the DOE “within the next couple of months,” Wachs said.

The Ivanpah project is moving along as scheduled, and BrightSource expects to complete it in 2013, Wachs said. About two thirds of the power from the project will go to Pacific Gas and Electric while the rest will go to Southern California Edison.

In all, BrightSource plans to build 2.6 GW of power plants to deliver electricity to PG&E and Edison (Ivanpah is part of this commitment). BrightSource’s technology uses flat mirrors called heliostats to concentrate sunlight onto a boiler at the top of a tower to generate steam, which is then piped to run turbines to produce electricity.

The company has secured enough land to build 10 GW of power plants in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Wachs declined to discuss the next U.S. project, but said the company plans to file papers with the California Energy Commission in the coming months.







BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that the Ivanpah project will create 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California’s local workforce benefits from the project. The project will also provide $300 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year of operation.
“The first of many expected utility-scale solar projects to break ground, Ivanpah is having a transformative effect on the High Desert Region’s workforce and economy,” said Bob Balgenorth, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. “President Obama’s stimulus and Senator Boxer’s tireless efforts helped make this project a reality. It is already starting to employ union labor and putting local people back to work. It will grow to be one of the region’s most impactful projects over the next three years.”

BrightSource’s proprietary LPT technology enables the company to employ a low-impact environmental design. Instead of the extensive land grading and concrete pads used by other competing solar technologies, BrightSource mounts mirrors on individual poles that are placed directly into the ground, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation. This design also allows for vegetation to co-exist within the solar field.

In order to conserve precious desert water, the Ivanpah project will employ an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using air-cooling, the project will use only 100 acre feet of water per year, approximately 95 percent less water than competing solar thermal technologies that use wet-cooling.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. provides clean, reliable and low cost solar energy for utility and industrial companies worldwide. The BrightSource Energy team combines nearly three decades of experience designing, building and operating the world’s largest solar energy plants with world-class project development capabilities. The company now has contracted to sell 2600 megawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology. BrightSource Energy’s solar plants are designed to minimize their impact on the environment and help customers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States, Israel, and Australia.