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Solar-Thermal Plant Gets Financing From Google, U.S. Guarantee

Israel Solar Plant
Rows of heliostats stand in the sun at the solar plant owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., in the Negev Desert, in Israel. Photographer: Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg News

April 11 (Bloomberg) -- BrightSource Energy Inc., a California renewable energy company, received funding from Google Inc. and a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department to build the world’s largest solar-thermal energy plant.

Google provided $168 million in equity financing for the 392-megawatt Ivanpah project in southern California, BrightSource said today in a statement.

Google has invested more than $250 million in renewable energy projects, the Mountain View, California-based company said. The company’s investing unit Google.org participated in a $115 million financing round that BrightSource closed in 2008.

“We’re helping to deploy the first commercial plant of a potentially transformative solar technology able to deliver clean energy at scale,” Rick Needham, Google’s director of green business operations, said in the statement. “Ivanpah will be the largest solar-power tower project in the world.”

Bechtel Corp. began construction in October on the Ivanpah project, which will consist of three separate plants.

BrightSource’s solar-thermal systems use mirrors, known as heliostats, to focus sunlight on boilers mounted atop towers, generating temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (538 degrees Celsius). The boilers produce steam that is piped to a power-generating turbine.

Google joins NRG Energy Inc., which has already committed as much as $300 million to the Ivanpah project, according to the statement.

Alstom SA, the third-largest maker of power equipment, has invested $130 million in Oakland, California-based BrightSource and is its second-biggest backer. VantagePoint Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Black River Asset Management LLC, DBL Investors, Chevron Corp. and Morgan Stanley have also provided funding to the solar energy company.

Ivanpah will sell power to utilities Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co., the Energy Department said. The agency had previously said it would provide a $1.4 billion guarantee for the project.

Editors:

To contact the reporter on this story: Ehren Goossens in New York at egoossens1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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