Tessera sells 850 megawatt solar farm project to K Road

Tessera Solar North America, Inc. sold its as yet undeveloped Calico Solar Project near Barstow, Calif., to K Road Power Holdings, LLC. It’s the latest in a string of events spelling trouble for this solar developer.

The sale of the proposed project, announced on Dec. 29, 2010, comes slightly more than a week after Southern Edison California announced that it decided to terminate its power-purchase agreement for the Calico project.

K Road bought the project without a power-purchase agreement from any power company.

Tessera has faced numerous legal and other challenges to its projects as it struggles to bring its SunCatcher technology to the large-scale, commercial solar power market. The technology uses a reflective satellite to concentrate solar heat on Stirling engines. As the Stirling engines heat up, they move, generating electricity.

The company has run into problems as it attempts to find $4.6 billion in funding to support its large-scale projects, including the Calico Solar Project, the 709 megawatt Imperial Valley Solar Project in California and another solar project in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The Imperial Valley Solar Project is pending lawsuits, and the San Luis Valley Project was scaled back.

Some residents are still protesting the project.

Tessera has applied for a DOE loan guarantee to help fund the solar projects but hasn’t received a loan-guarantee as of Jan. 3.

Tessera received final approval for the Calico site from the state of California on Dec. 1, 2010, after some clerical errors in the original approval—issued in October—were corrected.

Originally Tessera had planned to build an 850 megawatt SunCatcher-based power plant at the Calico location. In a press release announcing the sale, K Road said it plans to build an 850 megawatt plant, but will only use 100 megawatts of SunCatchers. The remainder of the project will consist of 750 megawatts of photovoltaics.

Tessera didn’t say much regarding the sale to K Road. In a press release, the company said, “The transaction secures the continued development of Calico Solar, job creation when the Project enters construction and the generation of solar energy when the plant begins operations.”

Janette Coates, a spokesperson for Tessera said, “We aren’t disclosing specific transaction details.” She did not respond to questions regarding Tessera’s other projects.

K Road solar did not respond to a request for comment on the agreement.

Pictured: Stirling engine systems, courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.