247Solar, Inc. was formed in 2015 by solar industry pioneer Bruce Anderson to commercialize the 247Solar Plant™, invented by Wilson Solarpower Corp., using technology originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Initial funding was provided by the US Department of Energy, with development assistance from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), WorleyParsons, Fraunhofer Institute, and Saint Gobain. The company has signed agreements to develop and deploy its technology in Morocco, China, the UAE, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Advanced negotiations continue throughout the world, including in India, Northern Africa, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
In 2009, Anderson’s company, Wilson TurboPower, a spinoff of MIT, became convinced that their breakthrough high-efficiency heat exchanger and turbine technologies, invented by mechanical engineering professor-emeritus David Gordon Wilson, would be suited to a new generation of concentrated solar power (CSP) applications. By inserting these technologies into the hardware configuration of a novel approach to CSP, that system’s performance and economic potential could greatly exceed those of other CSP implementations. Preliminary financial analysis showed the company’s approach had the potential, over time, to become among the lowest cost ways to produce power.
The concept was vetted by a couple of “CSP elders,” among the most respected in the field, who encouraged the company to pursue funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. In a highly competitive process, Wilson TurboPower won $4 million to develop the technology. The company changed its name to Wilson Solarpower, and 11 months later completed a Phase I Engineering and Cost Feasibility Study involving a global team of experts. The final report supported earlier financial projections, and outlined a path by which the concept could indeed become one of the world’s lowest-cost clean energy solutions. It further showed that this approach could be the most reliable and flexible approach to power generation, able to make grids more stable rather than less, unlike PV and wind. DOE awarded the company an additional $1 million, and the engineering of key components began.
The next step was to secure the funding needed to build the first pilot 247Solar Plant™ to demonstrate the technology. Venture capital was an obvious target. But, most VCs in the clean energy space were fixated on photovoltaics (PV), which were readily available and plummeting in price. Perceptions of CSP—true at the time— were that it was more expensive and complex than PV. That CSP could operate day and night, without the need for costly batteries, seemed not to matter.
Finally, in 2018, 247Solar, Inc. received a significant private investment, sufficient to enable engineering and construction of its first operational pilot plant.
The company has reached a definitive agreement to build its first pilot plant in Ouarzazate, Morocco, in partnership with MASEN, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy. Siting is approved and the Plant is expected to be operating before the end of 2019. Advanced discussions are underway to build additional pilot plants in Saudi Arabia and China.
247Solar Inc. is registered in the British Virgin Islands. For a variety of reasons, the company expects most sales and profits to be realized outside of the US in the near and medium terms. It’s also easier to raise money and do business throughout the world as an offshore company. That’s just the way it is. We owe it to investors and shareholders to maximize the value of the company within the constraints of the law and civic responsibility.