Google Invests $168M in BrightSource Energy’s Tower of Power

4/11/11Follow @bvbigelow

[Updated 4/12/09 00:30 am. See below.] Oakland, CA-based BrightSource Energy disclosed earlier this month that it has raised nearly $202 million in Series E funding from existing venture firms and some unnamed investors, and now Mountain View, CA-based Google has stepped into the light. Today Google reveals on its blog that it has invested $168 million “in an exciting new solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert in California.”

[Updated to clarify Google's investments in BrightSource] The item posted on the Google blog by Rick Needham, director of green business operations, says the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is designed to generate 392 megawatts of clean solar energy. Google spokesman Parag Chokshi told me late yesterday that Google’s $168-million investment was entirely for the Ivanpah project, and was not an equity investment in BrightSource.

So Google’s $168 million was not part of the $200 million round that BrightSource announced on April 1. But Chokshi says Google made a $10 million equity investment in Brightsource in 2007.

By coincidence, BrightSource today posted a photo on its website of the project under construction. The company began construction six months ago.

The design calls for erecting a field of mirrors, called heliostats, that concentrate the sun’s energy on a solar receiver at the top of a tower. The receiver, in turn, intensely heats a boiler so that steam spins a power-generating turbine.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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