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Brightsource Will Not Go Public After All

About a year ago, Brightsource, the developer of what could be the largest concentrating solar power plant in the world once it is done, announced its plans to go public.

At the time, the company was seeking to raise $250 million to further its business activities, which include developing the 392 MW Ivanpah project in California’s Mojave Desert. As of eary this week, the company wanted to raise about $180 million.

It was supposed to launch the initial public offering (IPO) today, April 12. In a last-minute announcement Wednesday, however, the company said it would withdraw its IPO citing adverse market conditions as the main reason for its decision.

“While we received significant interest from potential investors, the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an IPO,” said John Woolard, President and CEO of BrightSource Energy, in a statement. Specifically, Brightsource was hoping to sell 6.9 million shares at prices in the $21 to $23 range. 

Woolard also said that the company is in a strong financial position, pointing out that it has world-class investors. NRG and Google are two investors in the company.

BrightSource Energy designs, develops and deploys concentrating solar thermal technology. Ivanpah makes up the first three of 13 power plants that the company plans to build to meet its more than 2.3 gigawatts of contracts with Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Edison.

The planned IPO was an important milestone for Brightsource and the solar power industry as a whole.  It was a beacon of hope for an industry that continues to struggle amidst declining public support, consolidation and bankruptcies.

Ucilia Wang, a contributor to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, wrote persuasively why the Brightsource IPO was important to the industry. She said it would have been a success story for cleantech VCs, validation of Brightsource’s power-tower CSP technology, and a positive reflection on the government’s loan guarantee program that has been in the spotlight since Solyndra filed for bankruptcy last summer after receiving more than half a billion dollars from the U.S. government.

But, the Brightsource IPO will not happen after all. While experts in the solar industry exude confidence of the solar industry’s staying power and long-term success, all admit that 2012 will be difficult.

The failure of the Brightsource IPO certainly fits in that mold. 

Image: Volatile road sign via Shutterstock.

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