This story has climbed beyond the realms of venture capital, but is a good example of a solar thermal company gaining significant traction: Solel, a manufacturer and installer of solar thermal energy generators, has taken in $105 million from London-based investment firm Ecofin.

In the space of the past couple years, the 20 year old Israeli company has taken flight, accumulating contracts and equipment orders and signing agreements to build major generation projects in California and Spain.

In California and Nevada, Ausra and Brightsource are also competing for attention, scaling up operations as rapidly as possible. At least for the moment, solar thermal looks like a safer bet than photovoltaics, based on the economics.

However, that story may be changing, as solar PV manufacturers bring down costs over the next few years. For more on some recent moves in solar, see our posts on CIGS manufacturer Nanosolar starting production, and Ausra’s production plant in Nevada.