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Solar firm BrightSource cancels IPO

The builder of solar thermal projects blames "adverse market conditions" for its pulling the offering, which was expected to occur this week.

BrightSource solar thermal power plants can be equipped with a two-tank molten salt storage system, as shown on the right side of this image.

BrightSource, the builder of solar thermal projects, has canceled its initial public offering on the eve of its planned debut, citing "adverse market conditions."

"While we received significant interest from potential investors, the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an IPO," BrightSource CEO John Woolard said in a statement this evening (PDF). "As a company, we've consistently made decisions in the best interest of our shareholders, employees and customers, and we will continue to do so. Fortunately, we're in a strong financial position and have the support of world-class investors and partners."

The Oakland, Calif.-based company, one of the few green-tech companies started in the last decade to seek to go public, filed its IPO plans last Earth Day and was expected to begin trading this week. The company, which is backed by VantagePoint Venture Partners, sought to raise $182.5 million from the stock market to build a pipeline of utility-scale solar power projects.

The S-1 document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission laid out its business model and the risks of building large-scale energy projects in desert areas. Rather than use flat photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, BrightSource Energy builds a field of thousands of mirrors that track the sun. They concentrate light onto a tower that heats up a liquid to make steam which is fed into a turbine to make electricity.

Last April, the company announced that it has finalized $1.6 billion in loans guaranteed from the U.S. Department of Energy for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a facility that will have three concentrating solar thermal plants. Google also invested $168 million in equity into the project.