The investment is part of a $150 million round raised by BrightSource in one of the biggest renewable energy deals of the year. The California State Teachers Retirement System also joined the latest funding round as did the existing investors VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Based in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource has now raised more than $300 million. Alstom becomes one of the startup’s largest shareholders and will take a seat on the board, according to John Woolard, BrightSource’s chief executive. The French company makes turbines and other power systems for fossil fuel, nuclear and hydro power plants and operates a division that builds high-speed trains.
BrightSource has signed contacts to build solar thermal power plants in California that would generate some 2,600 megawatts. In February, the company obtained a $1.37 billion loan guarantee from the federal government to help finance the construction of its first project, a 392-megawatt power plant to be built in the Southern California desert by Bechtel.
Mr. Woolard said Alstom would help the company as it sought to develop more efficient solar power plants.
“They’re one of the world’s leaders in high-speed turbines, and this lines us up with someone who is pushing efficiency,” he said in an interview.
BrightSource said it would use the $150 million round to develop 14 solar power projects in the Southwest and to finance international expansion.
Alstom becomes the latest European industrial behemoth to jump into the renewable energy business. In February, the French company Areva, one of the world’s biggest nuclear power plant builders, acquired Ausra, a Silicon Valley solar startup, in a deal worth about $400 million. Last year Siemens, the German conglomerate, bought Solel, an Israeli solar technology firm.
“This partnership with BrightSource is a new step in Alstom’s clean power strategy,” Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power, said in a statement.
By TODD WOODY/NYT