Hot kilowatts: Infinia, Stirling Energy Systems, eSolar get money

With high silicon prices keeping the cost of photovoltaics up, solar-thermal power for utilities is looking attractive to investors.

Three solar-thermal companies have raised money in the past week in a sector that's showing life, despite a choppy investment environment.

Infinia on Tuesday said it has taken $7 million from Asian contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, part of a total of $57 million in a Series B round first announced in February .

Infinia's dishes use the sun's heat to generate electricity with a Stirling engine. Infinia
The company uses a dish to concentrate sunlight onto a Stirling engine, which makes electricity. It intends to sell its 3-kilowatt devices to small-scale utility plants.

On Monday, eSolar said it has raised $130 million from Idealab and Its solar-thermal systems, designed for utility-scale power plants, use mirrors to reflect light onto a tower that turns a turbine.

And last Thursday, Stirling Energy Systems announced a $100 million investment from renewable-energy developer and waste management company NTR.

Stirling Energy Systems makes a huge concentrator dish that generates heat to turn a Stirling engine that makes electricity. It's under contract for two power plants in the Mojave Desert that would initially generate 800 megawatts of power.

Solar-thermal technology has been around for decades, and Stirling engines date back to the 19th century. But the high cost of silicon-solar cells has made solar-concentrating systems more attractive in desert areas like the Southwest United States and Spain.


Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET


Delete your photos by mistake?

Whether you've deleted everything on your memory card or there's been a data corruption, here's a way to recover those photos.