Look For eSolar Deal This Week

Solar thermal technology developer eSolaris set to announce next week a power contract, said Craig Tyner, seniorvice president of engineering, at the Concentrating Solar Thermal PowerSummit 2009 in San Francisco Friday.

Tyner was tightlipped about the details, but said after his talkthat the deal would be done through its partnership with NRG Energy.Pasadena, Calif.-based eSolar signed an agreement with NRG earlier this year to provide the equipment to NRG for developing power plants.

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NRG also gets to develop the contracts already secured by eSolar,the companies said when announcing the deal. NRG agreed to pay eSolar$10 million for the development rights and as an equity investment. NRGwould own and operate solar farms using eSolar’s technology and sellpower to utilities.

In addition to the contract to be announced next week, eSolar alsosigned another contract just last week, said Tyner, who wouldn’t saymore.

eSolar decided to become a technology provider instead of focusingonly on being a power project developer because developing a projectrequirement demands resources that a startup like eSolar wouldn’t have,Tyner said.

One of the big hurdles for any utility-scale power project developeris to line up the millions of dollars for each project. Gettingfinancing wasn’t easy even before the financial market crumbled. Thecredit crunch only has deepened that challenge.

Ausra, a fellow solar thermal technology developer in California,also decided to focus on selling its equipment for now instead ofdeveloping and owning power plants. OptiSolar, another startup companyin California that set out to develop power projects using solarpanels, sold its project development business to First Solar when itcouldn’t come up with the money to go on.

Tyner said eSolar could still develop power projects in the future when market conditions improve.

eSolar also has licensed its technology to the Acme Group, an Indian company with an ambition to build 1 gigawatt of solar thermal power plants in India.

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