BrightSource Energy Inc is likely moving toward an initial public offering in 2011, a person close to the company said, after the U.S. solar concern proves its technology at a California oilfield.
The company, long the subject of speculation about when it might go public, has been waiting for milestones such as breaking ground on its 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar plant in the California desert. It broke ground on the plant, which will generate enough power for more than 100,000 homes, in October.
But more important is deployment of an enhanced-oil recovery system at a Chevron Corp (CVX.N) oilfield in Coalinga, California, that uses BrightSource's solar technology in a 29-megawatt steam-generating plant.
The base technology at Chevron's Coalinga oilfield is essentially the same as at BrightSource's Ivanpah plant, which is slated to start generating electricity in 2012.
The technology works through using thousands of heliostats, or mirrors, to direct sunlight toward a water boiler. The steam generated by the boiler gets injected into oil wells to heat up heavier oil and make it easier to extract. At Coalinga, the system will replace some steam production now powered by natural gas.