But that technology already exists. "There's no new technology on the transmission side, there are megavolt transmission lines around the world today," O'Donnell says. "It is the cost of building electricity transmission compared to the cost and liability of nuclear waste disposal or cost and liability of long-term carbon sequestration."
Ausra hopes to announce several partnerships this fall and has already acquired the land to build one such solar-thermal plant at an undisclosed location in southern California. If its storage system works and proves cost-effective, Ausra might just help usher in a solar revolution. "We have the ability to transition to a zero-carbon electricity future without moving the electricity price around," O'Donnell says. "That hasn't been part of anybody's conventional wisdom."
*<i>Correction: Initially, this read "kilowatts" rather than the correct unit of measure "kilowatt-hours," which reflects the averaging of the sun's energy over the course of a day.