A southern California start-up founded by Bill Gross (the founder of Idealab) is the first company of its size to land a major solar deal in China.
Bill Gross’ eSolar recently announced that it had inked a deal with China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. to build a 2,000 MW solar thermal farm in China. (Unlike photovoltaic solar, thermal solar uses mirrors to collect sun that heats water, generating steam for electrical power).
In an interview in 2009 eSolar’s founder said that he expected to be able to install solar thermal farms at a cost per watt between $2.50 and $3.00. Once operational, solar thermal farms should be able to produce electrical power at a cost of roughly $0.10 per kWh, a rate that is attractive compared to other types of electrical generation.
The company values the deal at nearly $5 billion, so it if moves forward, eSolar will find itself in the small but happy club of renewable energy companies that are generating meaningful profits.