Ausra, a new solar thermal power company is poised to deliver low-cost, large-scale clean energy. If you would like more information, or to speak with an Ausra spokesperson, feel free to contact me at the e-mail address or phone number listed below.
Media Contact: Luisa Montes
Ausra secures Series A funding to build and operate utility-scale solar thermal electric power plants
Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers back technology and utility veterans in making renewable energy price competitive with fossil fuels
AlwaysOn GoingGreen Conference, DAVIS, Calif. — Sept. 10, 2007 — Ausra Inc., the developer of utility-scale solar thermal power technology, has secured more than $40 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firms Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB). The company has assembled a world-class team of solar power scientists, power project developers and financiers to make reliable, large-scale solar thermal power a reality today for electric utilities.
"Worldwide, the electric power industry creates 40 percent of total carbon emissions, and electricity use is rapidly growing. Ausra's technology serves a critical need for utilities seeking large-scale affordable sources of clean power to meet the dual challenges of economic growth and carbon constraints," said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures and Ausra investor and board member. "Ausra's technology replaces smoke with mirrors by eliminating fuel use for power generation, and sets a new benchmark for the cost and scale of solar power."
Ausra's power plants drive steam turbines with sunshine. Locally manufactured solar concentrators made of steel and glass focus sunlight to boil water, generating high-pressure steam that drives conventional turbine generators. New thermal energy storage systems using pressurized water and low cost materials will provide for on-demand generation day and night. Ausra's core technology, the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar steam generation system, was originally conceived in the early 1990s by founder David Mills while at Sydney University. Mills later worked with Graham Morrison to develop the idea between 1995 and 2001.
Ausra aims to expedite the utility industry's transition to clean energy, helping utilities meet renewable portfolio standards while keeping rates low and the power on for consumers day and night. "Economic development around the world, coupled with recognition that carbon emissions must rapidly be eliminated, has created an enormous market opportunity for companies that can deliver solar power at large scale and at reasonable cost," says KPCB Partner and Ausra investor and board member Ray Lane. "Solar thermal power is the main event in renewable energy, and Ausra has the deep expertise and a simple, yet effective design to fully capitalize on the opportunity to deliver the majority of our future power needs."
"We had been working on a wide range of alternatives and kept finding that simpler, cheaper approaches outperformed higher temperature, more sophisticated designs," says Ausra Chairman David Mills. In 2002, Mills and Morrison founded Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd. in partnership with Ausra CEO Peter Le Ličvre, and SHP built a successful trial 1 megawatt system in 2004 for Macquarie Generation in New South Wales. A following 38 megawatt CLFR solar field is expected to be complete by 2009.
It was Ausra Executive Vice-President John O'Donnell who brought the founders and investors together in October 2006. They clicked, and Ausra was formed in late 2006 to take the technology to large-scale commercial deployment in the U.S. and worldwide. Le Ličvre recalls that "We found in Khosla Ventures and KPCB a vision that matched ours, a deep understanding of the market and fearlessness about bringing a fundamentally new technology to large scale."
Mills is known internationally for his academic advancements in non-imaging optics, solar thermal energy and concentrator systems. Morrison ran Australia's premier solar test facility, and is an expert at both solar collector and solar radiation modeling. Le Ličvre has 20 years of experience as an industrial designer specializing in technical development and financing new ventures. Chief Development Officer Robert Morgan and Chief Commercial Officer Glen Davis are recognized power industry experts, having come to Ausra after significant careers with AES and their consultancy Agile Energy. Together, Morgan and Davis have nearly half-a-century of experience in working with utilities to build and manage large scale power projects around the world.
Ausra, Inc. develops and deploys utility-scale solar thermal power technology to serve global electricity needs in a dependable, market-competitive, environmentally responsible manner. Located in Palo Alto, Calif., Ausra is a privately held company funded by Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. To learn more about Ausra and solar thermal power in general, visit www.ausra.com.
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