Monday, April 11, 2011

BrightSource Energy Finalizes $1.6 billion in loans guaranteed by the US Department of Energy; Google Buys $168 Millinon Equity Stake (GOOG)

This is big time political capitalism.
From the press release:

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a leading solar thermal energy company, announced today that it has closed financing for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Ivanpah is the world’s largest solar project under construction and when completed in 2013 will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today.
“The loan guarantee from the DOE for the Ivanpah project provides vital support for building this utility-scale solar thermal project”
As part of the financing, BrightSource finalized $1.6 billion in loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. The company also announced that Google will join NRG Solar LLC and BrightSource as an equity investor in the project by making a $168 million investment.

In October 2010, NRG Solar LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, announced its commitment to invest up to $300 million to become the lead investor in the project. NRG’s investment commitment coincided with BrightSource’s engineering partner, Bechtel, commencing construction on the project.
“By driving energy innovation in the field, not just in the labs, the DOE’s loan guarantee program is playing a vital role in realizing our nation’s clean energy and economic goals,” said Jack Jenkins-Stark, Chief Financial Officer for BrightSource Energy. “In partnership with the DOE, NRG, Bechtel and now Google, we’re building at Ivanpah cost-effective, environmentally friendly and reliable solar power plants. We’re thrilled to work with two of America’s leading utilities – PG&E and Southern California Edison – to provide their customers with clean, reliable and cost-effective solar power at a meaningful scale.”

“The DOE’s decision to support Ivanpah with a loan guarantee is proof that large scale solar projects are moving to the forefront of our nation’s clean energy alternatives. Likewise, we welcome the decision of Google, as one of the foremost ‘thought leaders’ in corporate America, to embrace this cutting edge clean energy technology through their equity investment in this project,” said David Crane, President and CEO, NRG Energy. “Ivanpah is a glowing example of truly sustainable energy—a project that all at once will ensure cleaner air, help in the fight against climate change, drive down the cost of large scale concentrating solar technology and take California one giant step closer toward its goal of producing 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

“We’re excited to be making our largest clean energy investment to date. With this investment, we’re helping to deploy the first commercial plant of a potentially transformative solar technology able to deliver clean energy at scale,” said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google. “Ivanpah will be the largest solar power tower project in the world, able to produce clean electricity at the highest efficiency of any solar thermal plant. We hope it can serve as a proof point and spur further investment in this exciting technology."

“The culmination of the DOE process is an important milestone for the advancement of clean renewable power plants. Ivanpah is a landmark project and the innovative engineering and construction used to build it will help shape the future of the solar power industry,” said Ian Copeland, president of Bechtel’s Renewable Power division....MORE
"BrightSource Raises Another $201M for Solar Thermal"
Or as Greentech put it:

This is going to have to be a big financial exit if investors are to be kept happy. 
Here's the story...
"Top Ten Solar Venture Capital Investors"
I'm reminded of a quote:

"Fundamentally VCs are risk adverse – they want no risk in the deal, if we could handle risk we'd be entrepreneurs." 
– Victor Westerlind, General Partner at Cleantech VC firm Rockport Capital
Again, via Greentech and a winner of our prestigious Climateer Line of the Day.

Keeping up with the VC's...