Alstom says it will invest up to $55m in solar thermal company BrightSource Energy in an effort to enter the solar market.

BrightSource intends to design, build and operate tower-based solar thermal power plants with operations in the US, Israel and Australia.

Alstom Power president Philippe Joubert said Alstom’s plant integrator capabilities, as well as its experience in engineering, procurement and construction and its global base will help BrightSource come up with competitive solar energy options.

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.

It plans to build 14 solar power plants in the US southwest by 2016.