Has CSP lost its shine?

A worker at work building the Ivanpah power-tower facility in California. Picture credit: BrightSource Energy

A worker at work building the Ivanpah power-tower facility in California. Picture credit: BrightSource Energy

Two hours northeast of Los Angeles, along a desolate stretch of road that inspires little beyond the urge to lean harder on the accelerator, lies the world's largest concentrating solar power (CSP) project.

This 354MW mass of parabolic troughs — known as Solar Energy Generating Systems  — is a relic, built between 1984 and 1991.

It was supposed to usher in the dawn of a new era, but when its developer, Luz Industries, went bankrupt in 1991, CSP entered its Dark Ages.

No other commercial CSP plant would be built until 2007, when Spain's Acciona opened a 64MW plant in Nevada. Then, suddenly, a newfound hunger for CSP emerged, helped along by surging energy prices and concern over climate change. Major corporations poured money into the Log in to read complete article.

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