GE invests in solar thermal firm eSolar with eye toward natural gas hybrid solar tech

Houston, June 7, 2011 — GE Energy announced today that it has entered into an investment and licensing agreement with California-based eSolar that enables GE to deploy Integrated Solar Combined Cycle technology to customers worldwide.

eSolar is a provider of tower-based concentrating solar thermal technology. MetCap Energy Investments, a Turkish investor and developer of power projects, plans to collaborate with GE in making this investment.

Under the agreement, GE will license and incorporate eSolar technology into its offers of cost-effective ISCC and standalone solar thermal power plants. The companies expect the transaction, which will establish GE as a minority shareholder, to close within a month. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

An ISCC project combines a combined-cycle system including a gas turbine, steam turbine, generators and a heat recovery steam generator, with a field of mirrors that focus sunlight on a tower to produce high temperature steam.

Steam generated in the solar field is fed into the water-steam cycle of the combined-cycle plant, increasing the power of the steam turbine and creating extra megawatts of electricity without using any additional natural gas.

eSolar’s technology will be integrated with GE’s recently introduced FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle technology to create a highly efficient and reliable ISCC plant.

eSolar’s power plant technology uses small, flat, pre-fabricated mirrors called heliostats to track the sun and reflect its heat to a tower-mounted receiver. This generates steam used by the plant’s power block to create electricity. Thousands of heliostats are aligned and controlled using advanced software algorithms to precisely focus the sun’s energy.

eSolar’s technology is architected to provide modular fields that maximize energy production, are scalable to meet a wide range of customers’ power generation needs, while also enabling rapid, lower cost deployment.

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