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BrightSource is headquartered in Oakland, California, with offices in Phoenix, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Melbourne, Australia. BrightSource began as Luz International, Ltd. nearly 3 decades ago in 1984, and was the first company in the world producing viable solar thermal plants. Luz designed, developed, built, financed, and operated nine Solar Electricity Generating Stations (SEGS) in California’s Mojave Desert between 1984 and 1991. These generating stations created a total of 354 megawatts.
The original Luz projects were based on solar thermal parabolic trough technology. These troughs concentrated sunlight onto a pipe carrying synthetic oil. Since that time, LUZ II has advanced solar thermal technology by developing a new, proprietary design based on Luz Power Towers (LPTs). This increases solar-to-thermal conversion efficiency from about 36% (for the older parabolic trough technology) to above 40%, while also reducing equipment and project costs.
The LUZ plants were founded by Arnold Goldman. The engineering and business development personnel who developed the original Luz projects are still employed by BrightSource today. BrightSource is currently developing more than 4 gigawatts of power in the Southwestern U.S. through solar plant projects 
BrightSource uses the Luz Power Tower 550 power system (LPT). Thousands of mirrors, or heliostats, are concentrated by a control system to a boiler. The boiler sits atop a tower in the center of the heliostats. The concentrated sunlight creates steam at up to 550 degree celsius. The steam travels down the tower to the power block. The steam turns a traditional turbine, creating electricity, which can then be plugged into the grid for consumption .
Solar Concentrator ProjectPacific Gas and Electric, has announced plans to develop a solar concentrator in Ivanpah, California, in the heart of the Mojave Desert. The facility will encompass 6-square miles, and will have an energy capacity of 440 Megawatts. The energy generated at the Ivanpah site is enough to power 150,000 homes and will offset CO2 emissions by 450,000 tons a year. The project will be built in 3 phases:
1. Initially, a 110 megawatt tower will be built in 2010. It will be in operation by 2012.
2. Next, the other 110 megawatt tower will be built, roughly 6 months after the construction on the first tower begins.
3. The final tower, a 220 megawatt tower, will be built. There is no timetable yet for construction.
This is currently the largest planned Concentrated Solar project in the world. The state of California requires investor-owned utility companies, like Pacific Gas and Electric, to supply at least 20% of their grid with renewable energy. The completion of this project will help California achieve that standard.
- BrightSource history
- BrightSource Concentrator
- Pacific Gas and BrightSource
- Mega Solar
- BrightSource Technology