BrightSource Energy, a concentrating solar thermal technology firm, just announced that it raised more than $80 million in equity financing, bringing its total equity financing to more than $615 million.

The funding was led by existing investors Alstom and VantagePoint Capital Partners, along with DFJ, CalSTRS, DBL Investors, Goldman Sachs, Chevron Technology Ventures and BP Ventures, et al. No new investors were added in this round.

In April of this year, BrightSource pulled its IPO registration statement with the SEC, almost a year after registering, claiming that "the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an IPO." Rumors were rampant in the days before withdrawing the IPO that the company was having trouble making its book as it sought to raise up to $182.5 million in its initial public offering.

Existing investors are keeping the company going and construction at the flagship Ivanpah project is continuing full speed ahead.

A release from the company has the firm expanding "geographic partnerships to build solar thermal power plants in India and Australia." 

Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director at VantagePoint, wrote in a release,“With its Ivanpah plant nearing completion, BrightSource is demonstrating the important role that large-scale solar thermal power will play in providing clean, cost-effective and reliable power to the American grid."  

BrightSource is in the process of building the 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar project in partnership with NRG Energy and Google. The next two projects on deck for BrightSource are the 500-megawatt Rio Mesa and 500-megawatt Hidden Hills projects, currently in the permitting process with the California Energy Commission.

Ivanpah is co-owned by NRG Energy, Google, Bechtel Corporation and BrightSource. The project was permitted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for development on federal lands in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, just adjacent to the Nevada border.

Looking out from the top of Ivanpah Unit One, past Unit Two to Unit Three, two miles away:

Ivanpah will be the biggest concentrating solar power facility in the world when it is fully on-line at the end of 2013. It will use a solar power tower technology designed by BrightSource founder Arnold Goldman, who was the driving force in the development of the first solar power plants in California in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The tower top, lined with thin water pipes


Looking down on the air cooling structure from the top of the Unit One tower

Bechtel is heading up the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of three adjacent towers, which will send a total of 370 megawatts to the California grid for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

The project is backed by a $1.63 billion DOE loan guarantee, but the per kilowatt-hour prices contracted in the PG&E and SCE PPAs are confidential. BSE estimates the global solar power plant market will exceed $200 billion by 2020.