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

By Alexis C. Madrigal

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.

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