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Areva buys Ausra for solar power-up

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: France's nuclear power giant, Areva, is buying a Silicon Valley solar start-up. Areva aims to dominate solar thermal power as well, and it's hoping California-based Ausra will help achieve that goal. As Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, the solar industry is beginning to consolidate.


Sarah Gardner: Some of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists poured more than $130 million into Ausra. But that wasn't enough to launch big solar thermal plants. Those are the kind that concentrate the sun's energy to power steam turbines.

Ausra needed deeper pockets, and Areva has them. Think of Areva as a sort of French GE.

Spokesman Jarret Adams says the global market for this kind of solar power could reach 20 gigawatts in the next decade.

Jarret Adams: That's the equivalent of about 20 large power plants. And we expect that we would be the market leader in this segment.

Analyst Nat Bullard at New Energy Finance expects more big conglomerates to gobble up clean energy start-ups in the U.S. -- many based overseas.

Nat Bullard: It will not be just the largest companies from Europe that come. It'll be the largest companies from Japan and Korea, China as well.

Areva said today it plans to build solar plants all over the world, including the U.S. Southwest.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Andrea Gardner is a journalism professor and writer in Pasadena, Calif.

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