LOS ANGELES - Solar thermal power company eSolar Inc said on Friday it granted South African company Clean Energy Solutions exclusive rights to represent and distribute eSolar's concentrating solar power technology across seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Johannesburg-based Clean Energy Solutions develops renewable energy projects.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement or how much solar power they plan to develop.

Solar thermal power uses the sun's heat to heat water, producing steam that powers a turbine to create electricity.

The technology is seen by some as a viable replacement for fossil-fueled electricity because plants can rival the size of many conventional power plants.

Initially eSolar will focus on on-grid applications and later will look toward more community-sized power plants in off-grid applications in Africa, said Paul LaFontaine, eSolar's vice president of international market development for Europe and Africa.

The South African government has set a goal to have 10,000 gigawatt hours of capacity from renewable resources by 2013.

The partnership expands eSolar's global operations. In February, eSolar partnered with Indian energy and technology company The ACME Group to build solar thermal power plants in India over the next 10 years.

The Pasadena, California-based company has deals with U.S. utilities, including NRG Energy Inc to create more than 400 megawatts of solar thermal power plants in the U.S. Southwest. It recently opened its first commercial power plant in Lancaster, California.

ESolar investors include technology incubator Idealab, Google Inc and Oak Investment Partners. (Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Carol Bishopric)