Nuclear Power Giant Areva Buys Solar Start-up Ausra

French nuclear power firm Areva announced earlier today the acquisition of Austra, a provider of concentrated solar power electricity generation infrastructure.
     
Given the market for concentrated solar power farms is expected to experience an average annual growth rate of 20% over the next ten years, reaching  an estimated installed capacity of over 20 GW by 2020, Areva believes the acquisition will allow the company to capture the lead in the burgeoning market.
     
Ausra isn’t the nuclear power company’s first dabble in alternative energy – the company also makes offshore wind turbines and designs, constructs and commissions turnkey biomass power plants. Areva is also developing hydrogen based integrated energy management modules that include an electrolyzer, a hydrogen storage system and a fuel cell.
     
Ausra’s core technology, the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector solar collector and steam generation system, uses mirrors to focus the sun’s heat onto receivers, which consist of a system of tubes through which water flows. The water in the tubes boils, generating high-pressure steam for use in power generation and industrial steam applications.
     
Ausra has its roots in Australia and the company’s first customer was Macquarie Generation, the largest power producer in Australia. Ausra’s solar steam generators supply steam to provide a boost to Macquarie’s coal-fired power station, the world’s first solar/coal-fired power augmentation facility. Ausra claims its solar thermal energy technology is the most land efficient in operation, generating 1.5-to-3 times more power per acre than any other solar technology. Depending upon the size of a project, Ausra can install a solar thermal farm in 6-18 months.
     
The acquisition of Ausra is expected to be finalised in the next few months, subject to usual regulatory approval.