Nuclear Areva buys solar company Ausra

AREVA announced the 100% acquisition of U.S.-based Ausra, a leading provider of large-scale concentrated solar power solutions for electricity generation and industrial steam production. This acquisition launches AREVA’s new global solar energy business. It reflects AREVA’s strategic objective to be the world leader in concentrated solar power (CSP) and will further strengthen and diversify its renewables portfolio.

Combining Ausra’s proven technology and AREVA’s world leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) skills, the group is committed to building the most cost-effective CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) plants for utilities, independent power producers and industrial customers around the world.

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 GW by 2020. With this acquisition, AREVA is poised to capture the leading position of this attractive and growing market.

Anil Srivastava, Business Group Renewable Energies Senior Executive Vice President, said: “By acquiring Ausra, AREVA has taken a major step forward to achieve its strategic ambition in renewables. The Group intends to become the world leader in the CSP market thanks to a reliable, cost-effective product.”

Ausra’s Chairman and CEO Dr. Robert E. Fishman declared: “Today is about making a strong company even stronger. With AREVA, Ausra is joining forces with one of the world’s global energy leaders. 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 solar power industry has started to consolidate after struggling in 2009 with a dearth of financing for new projects and a steep fall in prices. Other solar thermal players include Spain’s Abengoa SA and privately held U.S.-based BrightSource Energy Inc. The deal marks Areva’s first foray into solar energy and the nuclear giant hopes to have the leading market share in concentrated solar power by 2012.

"This market is set to have 20 gigawatts by the year 2020. Areva has an objective to be a world leader in solar energy," said Anil Srivastava, Areva’s senior executive vice president of its renewable energies business group. AREVA will leverage and reinforce Ausra’s team to strengthen its Global Solar business unit, led by Dr. Robert E. Fishman. It will be operated out of Ausra’s existing Mountain View, Calif. headquarters.

All over the world, AREVA provides its customers with solutions for carbon-free power generation and electricity transmission. With its knowledge and expertise in these fields, the group has a leading role to play in meeting the world’s energy needs.

Ranked first in the global nuclear power industry, AREVA’s unique integrated offering covers every stage of the fuel cycle, reactor design and construction, and related services.

In addition, the group is developing a portfolio of operations in renewable energies. AREVA is also a world leader in electricity transmission and distribution and offers its customers a complete range of solutions for greater grid stability and energy efficiency.

Sustainable development is a core component of the group’s industrial strategy. Its 75,000 employees work every day to make AREVA a responsible industrial player that is helping to supply ever cleaner, safer and more economical energy to the greatest number of people.

Ausra designs, develops, manufactures and installs solar steam generators for the global power generation and industrial steam customers. The company’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. Ausra manufactured and built the first solar thermal power plant to deliver electricity to California’s power grid in nearly 20 years and developed and installed the world’s first solar/coal-fired power augmentation facility for a major Australian utility. Ausra is a privately-held company with operations in the United States and Australia.

Key figures
Date of creation: 2006
Headquarters: Mountain View (CA), USA
Offices and industrial sites: US and Australia
Number of employees: 70 in 2009
Shareholders: Founders, Ventures Capital (Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, KERN Partners, Generation Investment Management, Starfish Ventures)