BrightSource to Bid for Solar Trust 500MW Concentrated Solar Power Project

BrightSource Energy Inc. (BRSE), a concentrating solar thermal power developer that withdrew its registration for an initial public offering in April, is seeking to buy an unbuilt 500- megawatt concentrating solar power plant from the bankrupt Solar Trust of America LLC.

Solar Trust, a joint venture of the insolvent German company Solar Millennium AG (S2M) and steelmaker Ferrostaal AG, asked a bankruptcy court to schedule a June 15 hearing to approve BrightSource as a stalking-horse bidder for its concentrating solar thermal Palen project in Riverside County, California, according a court filing.

As a stalking-horse bidder, BrightSource will be able to make a “minimum floor bid” for the Palen solar project before a scheduled June 21 auction for Solar Trust’s assets, according to the June 8 filing, which didn’t say what BrightSource may bid. BrightSource, based in Oakland, California, didn’t reply to phone and e-mail messages today.

Palen will have two adjacent 250-megawatt solar plants. Solar Trust is also seeking to sell the 1,000-megawatt Blythe plant in Riverside County and a 500-megawatt project in Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

Solar Millennium filed for bankruptcy protection after the plunging price of photovoltaic panels made its solar-thermal technology less competitive. The company planned to use arrays of trough-shaped mirrors to focus sunlight on a fluid-filled pipe to power a steam turbine and generate electricity.

BrightSource is building the $1.6 billion Ivanpah plant in California’s Mojave desert using a different concentrating solar thermal design. Its so-called power-tower system uses flat mirrors to focus sunlight on a boiler atop a central tower, generating steam to produce electricity.