The company, which has raised $160 million from backers including BP, Google.org, and VantagePoint Venture Partners, just completed a pilot plant in Israel. Its full-scale facility in the Mojave is scheduled to open in 2010. Thousands of cheap, flat, sun-tracking mirrors direct heat at the top of 300-foot towers. The sun, reflected off the mirrors, heats the water in the boxes on the top of the tower to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, turning it into high-pressure steam that travels to a nearby power plant to turn a generator and create electricity.
BrightSource has won a contract with PG&E to generate as much as 900 MW of solar power in California, at a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion. That's roughly the equivalent of a nuclear power plant.