N-plant leader Avera buys solar firm Ausra

The world's largest nuclear plant builder, Areva SA, is diversifying into solar power with the aim of becoming an industry leader, as it acquires US-based solar thermal player Ausra, said the company.

"This market is set to have 20 gigawatts by the year 2020. Areva has an objective to be a world leader in solar energy" by 2012, said Anil Srivastava, Senior Executive Vice-President of Areva's renewable energies business group.

Financial details were not disclosed in the purchase of Ausra, a Silicon Valley company which had raised $130 million (Dh477.1m) in venture capital from high-profile firms including Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures.

The purchase marks Areva's first foray into solar energy. Areva chose solar thermal technology – which uses the sun's heat to create steam to run turbines for electricity – over other solar power options because it is "the closest" to nuclear plants, said Srivastava in an interview.

The solar power industry has started to consolidate after struggling in 2009 with a dearth of financing for projects and a steep fall in prices.

 

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