Brightsource finds love in private markets

After failing to price its IPO earlier this year, Brightsource pulled its IPO and said it could get a better deal on capital from private markets. Well, the company put its money where it’s mouth was, and just raised an additional $80 million from a group of VC firms that included strategic investment arms at BP and Chevron. Brightsource is in the top ten of venture backed companies all time with total funding of $615 million.

Investors are thinking that solar thermal projects will remain attractive once the massive Ivanpah desert project is completed. Brightsource will be looking to sun rich countries with lots of available land, and large power company Alstom, which invested in the latest round, wants to partner to develop projects in India and Australia. Competition from low priced solar panels has placed some pressure on Brightsource since its main competitor, aside from fossil fuels, is the declining cost of solar farms being developed with solar panels. The largest solar farm in the world, the 1,000 megawatt Blythe farm, switched from solar thermal technology to solar PV panels, as panel prices plunged. But some utilities may appreciate Brightsource’s experience at developing solar thermal, particularly if panel prices eventually stabilize amid a wave of consolidation.

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Adam Lesser

Analyst Gigaom Research

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