eSolar Announces $40 Million Investment from GE


eSolar, an Idealab company based in Pasadena, CA that produces scalable solar thermal power plant technology, announced earlier this month that GE will invest up to $40 million in the company. In addition, Paul Browning, president and CEO of Thermal Products for GE Energy, will join eSolar's Board of Directors. eSolar was founded in 2007 and has received more than $185 million in financing from organizinations including NRG Energy, Oak Investment Partners,, ACME Group, and Quercus Trust.

An overview of eSolar's modular solar thermal technology is described in the following video:

In June, GE and eSolar announced a license agreement which will enable GE to incorporate eSolar technology into GE's recently announced Integrated Solar Combined Cycle (ISCC) power plants and standalone solar thermal power plants.

An ISCC power plant features a combined-cycle system including a gas turbine, steam turbine, generators and a heat recovery steam generator, as well as a field of mirrors that focus sunlight on a tower to produce high temperature steam. During the day, steam generated in the solar field is fed into the water-steam system of the combined-cycle plant, creating extra megawatts of electricity without using any additional natural gas. During the night or during periods of cloud cover, the power plant remains fully dispatchable using natural gas.

GE states that their ISCC power plants are capable of delivering fuel efficiencies in excess of 70 percent. “Adding eSolar’s high temperature tower technology to our combined cycle product offering allows us to offer an integrated solution with unparalleled efficiency, full dispatchability, and a market competitive cost of electricity,” said Browning. “It allows us to offer a power plant that creates more value for customers.”

He added, “Intermittent renewable energy has always worked in tandem with flexible natural gas through grid integration. As renewable uptake increases around the world, we recognize the need for combined cycle gas turbine technology that delivers both flexibility and world class efficiency. We believe that this combination of flexible and efficient gas with renewables can help meet near and long term global targets for climate change, cost and reliability. It is the future of power generation.

GE was granted exclusive worldwide rights to eSolar’s modular technology for ISCC, excluding China and India. Together the two companies are targeting Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States, and are working on a 530 MW project in Turkey with Turkish investor and power project developer MetCap Energy, which will feature 50 MW of eSolar concentrated solar thermal tower technology integrated with GE’s new FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant.

“Our partnership with GE moves our innovative technology to the next stage. Together, we are able to bring to market a power plant solution that drives down the cost of solar and meets the growing demand for renewable energy generation,” said John Van Scoter, President and CEO of eSolar. “Building on our proven technology, this investment will fund the development of next-generation, modular solutions that enhance the cost competitiveness of solar, such as molten salt storage technology. We welcome Mr. Browning to our board as a valuable asset in driving the strategic direction of the company during this time of rapid growth.”

For more information:

Changes Announced for

In a blog post on February 23rd, Dr. Larry Brilliant announced some changes at, Google's philanthropic group. These changes include that Dr. Brilliant will now be serving as Google's Chief Philanthropy Evangelist and that Megan Smith, who currently serves as Vice President of New Business Development, will also be serving as General Manager of and provide day-to-day management.

In addition, Dr. Brilliant outlined that these next steps would be taking place: 

One of the first things that Megan will focus on is how can best achieve its mission. During our review it became clear that while we have been able to support some remarkable non-profit organizations over the past three years, our greatest impact has come when we've attacked problems in ways that make the most of Google's strengths in technology and information; examples of this approach include Flu Trends, RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter. By aligning more closely with Google as a whole, Megan will ensure that we're better able to build innovative, scalable technology and information solutions. As a first step, Google has decided to put even more engineers and technical talent to work on these issues and problems…

Other investments that has previously made in the clean energy area include its RE<C initiative, an investment in eSolar, and investments in EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems).  Google, Inc. has also made a variety of investments and undertaken initiatives pertaining to clean energy. Brilliant stated that there is no change in Google's commitment, stated in 2004, to dedicate 1% of the company's equity and profits to philanthropy. For more information: Invests $10.25 Million in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Technology

Google announced today that it is investing $10.25 million (via in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).  The specific investments are:

AltaRock Energy, Inc.
$6.25 million investment to develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS projects.

Potter Drilling, Inc.
$4 million investment in two tranches, to develop new approaches to lower the cost and expand the range of deep hard rock drilling, a critical element to large-scale deployment of EGS.

Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab
$489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America.

EGS expands the potential of geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam and hot water. The EGS process, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine. 

"EGS could be the ‘killer app’ of the energy world. It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet. And it would be a perfect complement to intermittent sources like solar and wind," said Dan Reicher, Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for

The following video provides an overview of EGS:

In its funding announcement, Google cited an MIT report on EGS (The Future of Geothermal Energy) that estimated that just 2% of the heat below the continental United States between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths within the range of current drilling technology) is more than 2,500 times the country’s total annual energy use.

"EGS is critical to the clean electricity revolution we need to solve the climate crisis, but EGS hasn’t received the attention it merits. That’s why we’re pressing for expanded support from government and increased investment from the private sector," said Reicher, "We’re big believers in EGS and we’re looking for more opportunities."

Today’s announcement is part of Google’s Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative.  This initiative, announced in November 2007, focuses on solar thermal power, advanced wind, EGS, and other potential breakthrough technologies.  An initial goal of this initiative (also known as "RE<C") is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal, in years, not decades.