Solar Thermal Drives Investment Increase

Cleantech Group checked in recently with word that venture investment in clean energy tumbled in the second quarter of 2011, but according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, financial commitments overall in the sector surged, driven in no small part by utility-scale solar thermal development.

Furthermore, Bloomberg said its own accounting showed “venture capital and private equity players” boosted its investments in clean energy companies by 74 percent, to $3.1 billion, in the quarter – the top quarterly figure in more than two years.

clean energy investment, BrightSource Ivanpah plant

image via BrightSource Energy

Overall, Bloomberg said investment in clean energy in the quarter increased 27 percent over the first quarter of 2011, to $41.7 billion. That was 22 percent higher than in the same period last year. Big solar thermal – also known as concentrating solar or CSP – got a lot of the credit for the increase, and it was trending across the globe.

Bloomberg pointed to BrightSource’s 392-megwatt (MW) capacity Ivanpah project, which accounted for $2.2 billion of the new investment – most of it backed by a U.S. government loan guarantee.  But “the 100-MW FPL Termosol site in Spain (and) the 100-MW Eskom Uppington project in South Africa” also gobbled up cash, Bloomberg said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.