Israeli solar-thermal developer Solel said Wednesday it's forking out $140 million to build a manufacturing facility in southern Spain.


The plant will produce parts used in the construction of solar-thermal fields, including parabolic trough collectors. These curved mirrors are used to generate steam that in turn powers a turbine to produce electricity.

Solel, which develops and builds large solar fields, said the new plant would allow it to expand another part of its business -- supplying equipment to customers building their own solar fields.

The company said the Spanish manufacturing plant would start production next year and fully ramp up by 2011.

In December, Solel announced it had snagged a hefty $105 million from London-based investment firm Ecofin (see Solel Blazes with $105M Investment).

The funding was expected to help move Solel forward with such projects as a 553-megawatt plant in the California part of the Mojave Desert. In July, the company also signed an agreement to sell Pacific Gas & Electric with electricity from the plant.

Solar-thermal, which uses heat instead of light to make electricity, has been gaining traction lately with a spate of announcements.

BrightSource signed a deal to provide PG&E with up to 900 megawatts of solar-thermal capacity on Tuesday
, for example, and last month Masdar and Sener Grupo de Ingenería said they would bring $1.2 billion worth of solar-thermal projects to the world's sun belt.

More than $30 billion worth of plants have been announced in just the last six months, according to a report by the Prometheus Institute and Greentech Media released Tuesday. The study forecast that companies will spend between $80 billion and $200 billion on concentrating-solar installations in the next 12 years (see Concentrating Solar to Reach 18 Gigawatts by 2020).