PG&E and Ausra Generate Solar Electricity Together
In Palo Alto, California, the company Ausra was founded in 2006 by a privately held consortium of Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Last month (November 5, 2007), Ausra was awarded a contract from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for a 177 megawatt solar thermal purchasing agreement. PG&E has currently signed a total of 553 MW of solar purchasing agreements with solar thermal companies.
Ausra will locate their new solar thermal plant for PG&E in San Luis Obisbo County, California. The 177 MW plant will cover one square mile (640 acres) and will be a zero emissions facility with virtually no impact on the environment. Ausra will be using the development of the PG&E facility to refine solar thermal technology and improve its construction cost efficiency. The market for Ausra building further capacity in solar thermal power generation is huge. It has been estimated by the U.S. Department Of Energy, that the State of Nevada could power all of the electricity needs of the United States through solar thermal power generation plants.
Ausra's technology is called Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CFLR) that concentrates solar photon energy into an intense zone using a series of parabolic trough mirrors. The concentrated solar energy is conveyed using heat transfer of the energy into a standard proven water-steam gas turbine arrangement that generates electricity. CLFR technology was first commercialized by Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd in 2004 in Australia.
For investors, the time will come when there will be a great opportunity to buy into the solar thermal technology if companies like Ausra and Stirling Energy Systems go public with initial IPO's. For European investors, the publicly traded company Abengoa in Spain is already producing solar thermal power electricity. Abengoa is a diversified environmental energy company traded in Euros on the Madrid and five other European exchanges.
What will make Ausra and Stirling Energy Systems stocks to buy when they eventually go public will be that they are pure solar energy companies and this is just the beginning of the solar thermal power industry.