Video: How Solar-Farm Development Stalled for More Than a Decade

During the Reagan Administration, that is to say, more than 25 years ago, a company called Luz International built a complex of solar thermal power plants out in the Mojave Desert. After the company was hit by a series of legislative handicaps and tax-related problems, Luz went out of business in the early 1990s. They'd managed to vastly reduce the cost of solar thermal electricity and were responsible for the vast majority of the world's solar capacity.

About a decade later in the early 2000s, Luz reformed and reassumed its position as a global leader in solar under the name BrightSource. The company is now building a new massive solar farm near Ivanpah, California.

But in the intervening years, which saw an increasing acceptance of climate science, very little happened in solar thermal research. Large-scale solar power plant developers lost a decade in their race to compete with fossil fuels. In this video, I tell the condensed story of Luz, which I cover more extensively in my book, Powering the Dream.

Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Technology

Just In