BrightSource, Alstom Eye Mediterranean ?Ring? for Concentrating Solar Power

BrightSource Energy and French power Alstom said Wednesday that they’ve formed a partnership aimed at building solar-thermal power plants in a ring around the Mediterranean. In terms of geography, if not scale, the plan echoes the scheme of the Desertec Initiative, a $555 billion plan to build enough solar power in North Africa to supply 15 percent of Europe’s electricity need by 2050.

Alstom and BrightSource Energy today announced a business partnership agreement to provide solar thermal power plants in particular in the Mediterranean ring and Africa. The agreement brings together Alstom’s extensive experience in the field of turnkey power plants and key power equipment (such as steam turbines) with BrightSource’s LPT solar thermal technology. The agreement follows Alstom’s $55 million investment in BrightSource Energy in May this year.

Philippe Joubert, President of Alstom Power, said: “This partnership is a further step in Alstom’s commitment to solar thermal power, alongside its strong renewable power portfolio in hydro and wind power.”

John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy, remarked, “Today’s agreements reflect the growing global demand for highly efficient, reliable and environmentally-responsible solar power plants. With decades of experience building power plants in these regions, Alstom is an ideal partner as we expand into these markets.”

BrightSource Energy’s proven LPT technology produces electricity the same way as fossil fuel power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a conventional turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuel sources, the company uses thousands of small mirrors called heliostats to directly reflect sunlight onto a boiler at the top of a tower to produce the high temperature steam.

Once the electricity is created, the steam is air-cooled and piped back into the system in a closed-loop, environmentally friendly process. The result is carbon-free power, but with many of the reliability characteristics found in traditional power plants.

Mark Coxon, Alstom Power’s Senior Vice President Finance, commented: “This is the next step in Alstom and BrightSource’s relationship. Alstom’s plant integration experience and state-of-the-art power generation equipment in combination with BrightSource’s solar field and tower based technology will allow us to develop fully integrated solar power plants tailored to specific customer requirements.” Mark Coxon has recently joined the Board of Directors of BrightSource Energy.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. provides clean, reliable and low cost solar energy for utility and industrial companies worldwide. The BrightSource Energy team combines nearly three decades of experience designing, building and operating the world’s largest solar energy plants with world-class project development capabilities. The company now has contracted to sell 2610 megawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology. BrightSource Energy’s solar plants are designed to minimize their impact on the environment and help customers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States, Israel, and Australia.

Alstom is a global leader in the world of power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. Alstom builds the fastest train and the highest capacity automated metro in the world, provides turnkey integrated power plant solutions and associated services for a wide variety of energy sources, including hydro, nuclear, gas, coal and wind, and it offers a wide range of solutions for power transmission, with a focus on smart grids. The Group employs 96,500 people in more than 70 countries, and had sales of over € 23 billion in 2009/10.