Last year, solar companies Optisolar and Solel “both sold out to larger, deep-pocked companies,” as a New York Times Green Inc. post put it. Last week, the French nuclear power company, Areva announced its acquisition of Ausra, a small company that makes solar thermal systems used for electricity production or industrial steam. The deal is expected to close within the next few months. Ausra manufactures curved mirrors that focus the sun’s heat on a black pipe that goes through the middle of the structure. Fluid in the pipe is heated and used to make steam.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company was founded in Australia, but relocated to Silicon Valley in 2007. Ausra has a five megawatt (MW) demonstration plant near Bakersfield, Calif., and a factory in Las Vegas that makes mirrors. It also has a solar array that feeds steam into a coal-fired power plant in New South Wales, Australia.
A news release said the acquisition of Ausra “launches Areva’s new global solar energy business.” The market for concentrated solar plants is expected to grow in the next decade with an average annual growth rate of 20 percent and should reach an estimated installed capacity of more than 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020.
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 said, “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.”