Solar thermal power company BrightSource Energy Inc. today filed a request with the Securities and Exchange Commission to withdraw its Form S-1 registration statement, effectively cancelling the company’s planned IPO. BrightSource cites “current market conditions” as the reason for the cancellation.
BrightSource filed its first registration statement almost exactly one year ago and had recently filed an amended version setting a price range of $21-$23/share on an IPO of 6.9 million shares. MarketWatch cites an industry analyst who claims that orders for the stock came in below the company’s range. Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) are investors in the firm, and the federal government has provided the company with loan guarantees of $1.6 billion.
The company’s claim that current market conditions don’t support an IPO may be true for solar thermal power firms, but other recent IPOs have been well-received. BrightSource, which is building the 377-megawatt Ivanhoe Solar Thermal Project in southern California, is running afoul of the extremely low prices for solar PV panels. Before solar panel prices fell by around 50%, solar thermal claimed a price/megawatt advantage that has since evaporated. Large solar PV installations, like the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project from First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), are now more competitive and may, in fact, even be cheaper to build at utility scale.
While BrightSource’s withdrawn IPO may not signal the end for solar thermal generation, it’s certainly a warning shot.