ESolar Lands Huge $5B Solar Thermal Contract in China
ESolar, a builder of solar thermal equipment and plants, has acquired a $5 billion, 2-gigawatt solar project in China, putting it among the big names in solar, like First Solar and Solyndra and for the first time putting the U.S. on the map as a major solar thermal distributor. ESolar is partnering with China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing to build a field of mirrors used to concentrate sunlight on heat-trapping water, which is then converted to steam to turn turbines. It is expected that this solar plant will be able to power 2 million Chinese homes.
So why did China go with three-year-old eSolar instead of an older more established competitor? Apparently ESolar is offering great terms - agreeing to license most of its technology, including the software used to turn the mirrors to just the right angle based on the movement of the sun, which will allow China Shandong to test the technology in phases and scale it more easily.
This is the second major deal eSolar has made in Asia, the previous having been with India’s Acme Group to build 1,000 megawatts of solar thermal capacity. ESolar also plans on expanding to the sub-Saharan region of Africa with another recent partnership. The company also has several U.S. projects in the works, including one that will transmit about 245 megawatts of solar thermal power through Southern California Edison.