From a 4/21 press release:
eSolar™, a producer of modular solar thermal power plants, announced (pdf) that is has closed $130 million in funding from Idealab, Google.org, Oak Investment Partners, and other investors for the construction and deployment of pre-fabricated power plants. Their distributed solar thermal plants achieve economies of scale at 33 MW, and are modularly scaled to fit the needs of large and small utilities.
"The eSolar™ power plant is based on mass manufactured components, and designed for rapid construction, uniform modularity, and unlimited scalability. Rather than over-engineering the solution, eSolar’s smart scalable solar architecture targets what we see as the four key business obstacles facing the sector: price, scalability, rapid deployment, and grid impact."
-- Asif Ansari, CEO of eSolar.
. . . Centering on eSolar’s 33 MW pre-fab form-factor, the company’s modular design translates to minimal land requirements. The company’s solar power plant solutions are tailored to fit local resources and produce a low environmental footprint, favoring a straightforward siting and permitting process.
. . . eSolar has secured land rights in the southwest United States to support the production and transmission of over 1 GW of power. eSolar will have a fully operational power plant later this year in southern California.
From their website:
The economic tipping point, for solar power, occurs when the capital cost of the solar field is less than the capital costs and fuel costs of the traditional system. To address this issue, eSolar has developed a modular power plant architecture designed to take advantage of mass manufactured components at every level.
eSolar has designed a solar field layout that minimizes installation time and cost. By employing a repeating structure and a revolutionary calibration system, eSolar plants come on line quickly . . . Utilizing very low wind profile heliostats, eSolar provides higher reliability in all wind conditions, lower risk of wind damage, and more power plant up-time.
Their power plants are structured on a 33 MW base modules, scalable to over 500 MW facilities, with energy prices that are competitive with fossil fuels, consisting of several thermal receiver towers, each with a field of heliostats. Each module is a complete power plant, consisting of several thermal receiver towers, each with a field of heliostat mirrors, and a central power block with steam turbine and generatore.
Solar heliostats were designed from the ground up to minimize every possible cost. Their heliostats are designed to fit efficiently into shipping containers to keep transportation costs low, and they are pre-assembled at the factory to minimize on-site labor.
If the statement that "prices that are competitive with fossil fuels" turns out to be true, than this is truly a breakthrough in solar technology. eSolar has provided no details about its technology and no specific information about "a fully operational power plant later this year in southern California," unless I have missed that announcement, I could find no reference to it on their website.