SolarReserve mulls IPO this year or next - CEO

NEW YORK Mon Apr 9, 2012 4:15pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - SolarReserve, which develops large-scale concentrated solar power plants, may consider a public offering of shares later this year or in 2013, chief executive Kevin Smith said.

Such a move would follow BrightSource Energy Inc's (BRSE.O) IPO, expected this month. That company hopes to raise up to $182.5 million.

"That's something that we'll probably evaluate later in the year or 2013, along with other alternatives, such as (seeking) strategic investors," Smith told Reuters, referring to the possibility of a SolarReserve initial public offering.

SolarReserve is building a 110-megawatt power plant, called the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project, near Tonopah, Nevada.

The company is not looking to raise cash, Smith said, but is seeking debt and equity investors for large plants under development.

Shares in most publicly traded solar companies have been pummeled in recent months as panel prices have more than halved since the beginning of 2011.

Unlike photovoltaic solar, which uses panels to turn sunlight into electricity, SolarReserve's Crescent Dunes plant will use thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a "power tower".

That light heats fluid made of molten salt in a receiver, which is used to produce steam and run an electricity turbine.

SolarReserve's use of molten salt will allow it to conserve the heat for up to 10 hours at the Tonopah plant so it can produce electricity far into the evening hours after sundown, unlike photovoltaic solar power.

The project won a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy last year, and has attracted investments from construction company ACS Cobra and Spanish bank Santander (SAN.MC).

Smith said the company had about 20 other projects in various phases of development, including concentrated solar projects in California and Spain and a photovoltaic solar project in South Africa.

(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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