French nuclear energy giant Areva has jumped into the U.S. renewable energy market with the acquisition of Ausra Inc., a Mountain View, Calif., solar power plant start-up.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Areva executive Anil Srivastava said the sale price was in line with the $418 million that rival Siemens of Germany spent last year to acquire Solel Solar Systems, an Israeli solar power plant builder.
That would be a decent payday for Ausra's investors, which include Silicon Valley venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures.
Ausra relocated to Silicon Valley from Australia in 2007, having announced plans to build a gigawatt's worth of solar thermal power plants. The start-up raised about $130 million from investors, but last year abandoned plans to build its own solar projects. Instead, the company said it would focus on supplying equipment to other developers.
Then in November Ausra said it would seek a buyer.
Although Areva is new to the solar market, the French firm's $18 billion in annual revenue could help reassure bankers who tend to shy from financing multibillion-dollar solar plants using new technologies.