In an announcement last week, Google Corporation made public their plan to invest $10 million in BrightSource Energy, a company that constructs utility-scale, solar thermal power plants. Thanks in large part to Google, BrightSource has now raised $115 million in their latest round of fundraising.
With preexisting, big-time investors including BP, Morgan Stanley, and Chevron, among others, BrightSource is showing serious potential in finally achieving production of utility-scale solar power at a price that competes with coal. As part of their RE<C initiative, the move by Google, which is on a famous, year-long quest to become carbon neutral, further illustrates their commitment to clean, renewable energy. And the company’s latest move into solar energy investment may reap huge dividends for the solar industry.
Google, one of the largest, most powerful tech companies in existence, is certainly no slouch in terms of capital, and should the BrightSource initiative be successful, then more eyes and wallets may turn to solar thermal energy as a large scale replacement for “dirty” energy sources like coal. The implications of this investment by Google will likely be far reaching and it is already part of a rising tide for BrightSource. In this its third round of fundraising, the company has already raised nearly triple that of its first two runs. And with rumors of $9-10 gallons of gas floating across airwaves and around supermarkets, such high profile solar investments cannot come fast enough. The next big step for the solar industry is to prove that it can compete with coal and traditional energy resources. As far as big steps go, this investment, and overall commitment to solar energy by Google may very well be the hand that ties the shoe. And to beat coal, well, that would be a very big step indeed.