April 24, 2007

Luz 2

The company I started working for yesterday is called Luz 2. Today Luz 2 is a small company (under 30 employees) but there's a lot of hope for growth. The company is developing a type of power plants using solar energy.

It was important for me to work in renewable energies which I consider an all-important and fascinating challenge. There are many sources of renewable energy on earth: wind, biomass, tide, geothermal... and the one we are trying to harness: solar.

Solar energy comes to the Earth in the form of light. It can be transformed very easily into heat: any black surface does just that. But generating electricity from solar energy is tricky. Photovoltaic cells are one possibility. The other possibility is to use the sun's as the source of heat in "traditional" power plants, instead of burning oil, coal or gas. The problem is to concentrate the sun's energy and transfer it to a fluid. The first Luz company pioneered a design called "parabolic troughs" which was very successful and is still the leading technology today. The Luz 2 company bets on improving an other design called "solar power tower": a field of heliostats concentrating light on a central receiver. Prototypes have been built before (Solar One/Two, Themis) a competing commercial project is underway Solar Tres. Wish us luck!

Additional reading:
A good introduction to the history of Luz & Luz 2 in relation with the California electricity market.

An interview with Arnold Goldman, founder of Luz and Luz 2. According to this interview, for those who wonder, Luz refers to the place where Jacob had his dream (Genesis 28, 12-22)...

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