Nuclear Developer Areva To Buy Concentrated Solar Company Ausra

Nuclear power developer Areva (CEI.PA) announced Monday it will acquire U.S.-based concentrated solar power (CSP) company Ausra.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Areva (www.areva.com) said the acquisition launches its new global solar energy business and reflects a strategic objective to be the world leader in CSP.

Reports first suggested that Ausra was looking for a buy in November 2009.

Mountain View, California-based Ausra was founded in 2006 and has raised about $130 million in venture funding from Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins–among others.

Ausra secured a power purchase agreement (PPA) with California utility PG&E for 117 megawatts (MW) of power and inaugurated a 5-MW demonstration power plant in October 2008.

However, in January of 2009, the company announced that it was changing course and would no longer focus on power plant development, but rather, would focus on selling solar thermal systems to other developers.

It appears that under Areva’s leadership, Ausra will return to developing CSP plants. 

Reuters reports that Areva intends to build plants for utilities, independent power producers and industrial companies, begining in the southwest US, Middle East, Europe and South Africa.

Ausra will be operated out of its existing Mountain View, Calif. headquarters.

The acquisition is expected to close in the next few months, subject to customary regulatory approval.Ausra’s Chairman and CEO Dr. Robert E. Fishman declared: "Combining Areva’s financial and commercial strengths, and its energy expertise, with Ausra’s proven technology and experienced management team will help position Areva for even greater success in the renewable and carbon-free energy industry."

The market for concentrated solar power plants is expected to grow substantially in the next decade with an average annual growth rate of 20% and should reach an estimated installed capacity of over 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020.

Ausray’s Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar steam generators are designed for existing fossil-fired plants, new standalone solar and solar/fossil hybrid plants, and a diverse range of industrial customers.

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