French power company Alstom will invest upto $55m in solar thermal company BrightSource Energy. This investment represents Alstom's entry into the solar energy market.

Alstom said that this operation takes place as part of a capital increase of $150m organised by BrightSource, which designs, builds and operates tower-based solar thermal power plants with operations in the US, Israel and Australia.

Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power, said: “With this agreement, Alstom and BrightSource intend to enter into a fruitful industrial relationship, which will enhance BrightSource’s leading position in the solar energy market.

“Alstom’s plant integrator capabilities, proven engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) skills and global customer base will help BrightSource make solar energy cost competitive with fossil fuels by developing, building, owning and operating the most cost-effective and reliable large-scale solar energy projects.”

BrightSource’s tower technology employs thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a central receiver atop a tower to produce high temperature steam, which is then piped to a turbine and generator to produce electricity.

BrightSource has contracts for a total of 2,600MW with PG&E and Southern California Edison. The company intends to build 14 solar power plants in the US southwest by 2016. BrightSource’s first US power project, the 392MW Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System, is currently under development in San Bernardino County, California.