The San Luis Valley in southern Colorado is a place of desolate beauty, roughly the size of New Hampshire, the driest high-elevation area in the United States. It’s also becoming a proving ground for both wind and solar power projects, some of them of vast scale. This week the Saguache County Board of Commissioners voted to issue a permit for a
By year’s end, regulators are expected to approve a host of solar energy projects in California that could eventually produce as much electricity as several nuclear plants. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, John Woolard, the CEO of the company that has begun
BrightSource Energy, Inc., developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, has raised an additional $150 million in its most recent equity financing. The Series D round brings BrightSource’s total equity financing to more than $300 million and positions the company for significant growth.
New investors including Alstom and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) joined existing investors in this round, led by VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
The additional financing will be used to support BrightSource’s 2,610 megawatts in contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Southern California Edison to build 14 solar power plants in the US southwest by 2016. The funds will also be used by BrightSource to further its international expansion plans.
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
Twenty years ago when an epic clash over the logging of ancient redwood forests roiled California, the battle lines were clear-cut.
On one side stood a Texas corporate raider who acquired the Pacific Lumber Co. in a junk bond-fueled takeover and began felling vast swaths of primeval redwoods to pay off the debt. On the other side was Earth First! and other grass-roots greens who staged a campaign of civil disobedience to disrupt the logging. And while mainstream environmental groups may have looked askance at such tactics, they supported the cause in the courts, suing to stop the clear-cutting of ancient trees.
Earlier in the week, Jonathan Axelrad, Co-Chair of this past weekend’s Jewish Response to the Energy Challenge (J-REC) conference held in San Francisco and broadcasted through out the United States and Israel, was asked if a “Jewish response to energy” wasn’t as superfluous as the Korean response to hurricanes.
As one of the few, if not only, gentiles I began the morning a bit skeptical, though after a day of thought provoking lectures and panels, I feel it was not another superfluous conference, and the concept of a concerted Jewish response could indeed be the seed of a terrifically successful piece of the large puzzle that will be the energy (and consumption) solution of the future. The core ideas behind why I agreed with the many bright panelists and moderators for why there should be a particularly Jewish response is because of the interdisciplinary and international nature of the energy challenge, the acute water and related energy challenge within Israel, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (loosely translated from Hebrew: the pursuit of things that avoid social chaos).
BrightSource announced a huge deal today (and last month they announced an even bigger one for 1,300 MW with Southern California Edison) but before jumping up and down too much, lets take a wait and see approach to how this will unfold.
Remember, BrightSource is led by a man that I quote often for having said “this is an industry of billions and decades, not millions and years.” While it is enormous, and it is great news for solar, let us not forget how just over a week ago Optisolar sold its pipeline of deals to FirstSolar.
Yesterday, First Solar announced it had reduced its manufacturing cost for solar modules in the fourth quarter to 98 cents per watt – that is big news because the company won the race to produce under the $1 per watt price barrier. This news didn’t come as a surprise to many, and perhaps we can get Brad to write a note about the true significance of the announcement.
Other big news was PG&E’s proposal for 500 MW of solar PV – half of which PG&E would develop on its own. This is worth noting because traditionally Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) in California, like PG&E, have had to rely on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) since the deregulation of the State’s energy market in the 1990’s.