ABU DHABI -- Interested in owning part of a solar-thermal company?
eSolar is looking to sell up to 10 percent of the company, said Bill Gross Tuesday at the World Future Energy Summit hosted by the Abu Dhabi government. Gross was introduced as the CEO. Former CEO Asif Ansari is now the CTO, Gross said.
Gross founded tech incubator Idealab in 1996, and Pasadena, Calif.-based Idealab was one of the investors who put up $130 million to fund the private eSolar last year (see Q&A: Bill Gross Puts a Shine on Solar).
Gross announced that eSolar, also based in Pasadena, is looking for investors during his presentation at the summit. It's not clear whether existing shareholders are trying to unload their stakes in the company. A company spokesman declined to provide more details about the sale of shares.
The technology makes use of the sun's heat to create steam and drive turbines for generating electricity. An array of mirrors is set up to collect the heat and direct it to a tower for steam generation.
eSolar signed a deal with Southern California Edison last year to sell electricity from a series of solar-thermal power plants in Antelope Valley in Southern California. eSolar would design and build these power plants, which would have a combined capacity of 245 megawatts, the company said at the time. The project is scheduled to begin delivering electricity in 2011.
Signing a power purchase agreement is a key step for project developers to secure more construction money. Although eSolar hasn't' disclosed how much it would cost to build 245 megawatts worth of power plants, it's clear that $130 million is far from adequate.
Torresol Energy, another solar-thermal power plant developer, had to secure €240 million ($318.3 million) to build a 17-megawatt plant. Torresol also plans to start delivering electricity in 2011. It started construction in November 2008.