Stirling Energy Systems (SES) of Scottsdale, Arizona, a system manufacturer of dish-engine solar plants, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy according to an article in Renewable Energy World. Our calls to the company have not yet been returned; the firm's website is offline.

This event should come as little surprise to followers of the Stirling/Tessera saga.

In April 2008, Ireland's NTR acquired a majority stake in Stirling Energy Systems for $100M.

About a year ago, Tessera Solar, the dedicated development arm for SES, had two massive projects -- each with PPAs signed by major California utilities. The Imperial project was a 709-megawatt plant with a PPA from SDG&E.  The Calico project was an 850-megawatt plant with a PPA from SCE. 

But late last year, the Calico project was sold to a new photovoltaic developer named K Road.   

And Imperial Valley was acquired by AES Solar, a photovoltaic developer spawned by AES Corp and Riverstone Holdings.

Tessera and SES wanted to build massive solar thermal parks in the Southwest based around the SunCatcher, a mirrored dish that directs heat towards a Stirling engine to produce power. An individual SunCatcher was supposed to generate up to 25 kilowatts of power. Stirling engines do not have energy storage capabilities. The Stirling engine was developed 200 years ago and is classified as an external combustion engine. Infinia is still looking to bring dish-engine systems to market.

Some CSP projects are being canceled or changed to PV, but there are still several CSP mega-projects that have secured financing and are now beginning construction (e.g., BrightSource's 392-megawatt Ivanpah and Solar Reserve's 110-megawatt Tonapah project).  

The solar landscape continues to shift into clearer focus. GTM Research's CSP report covers these markets in comprehensive detail.