Australian-born solar technology company gets $76 million in funding

Ausra, a solar technology company founded by Australian researcher David Mills, has secured a $76 million funding package from a group of venture capital firms, including Australia’s Starfish Ventures.

Ausra, a solar technology company founded by Australian researcher David Mills, has secured a $76 million funding package from a group of venture capital firms, including Australia’s Starfish Ventures.

The capital will be used to boost production of Ausra’s five-megawatt solar thermal power project in California, where the company is now based. The plant uses Ausra’s core Fresnel lens-based solar power technology.

The company also has a small facility attached to the Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley. Some of the funds raised will be used to expand this facility to help lower the power station’s carbon emissions.

Ausra is the third clean-tech company that Melbourne-based Starfish Ventures has invested in and investment director Ivor Frischknecht said it was particularly pleasing to invest in a company with Australian roots.

“We see Ausra a bit like buying back the farm.”

Starfish investment director Aaron Fyke says one of Ausra’s big advantages is that it is relatively cost-effective when compared to other solar technolgies because it uses solar thermal power (where water is heated and steam created to turn turbines) rather than solar panels.

“As compared to other solar options, Ausra’s technology is one of the cheapest that exists.”

Fyke says in the long term, Ausra’s technology could allow a solar plant to be built for around the same costs as a coal-fired power plant.

 

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