In its quest to harness the sun's power with a new generation of solar thermal power plants. Pasadena, Calif.-based eSolar is currently building a 7.5MW demonstration facility that uses a modular design and mass-manufactured components that can be scaled to fit specific power needs. The technology relies on mirrors — each about 1 square meter — that track and reflect sunlight to a tower-mounted receiver. The solar heat is harnessed and used to boil water, creating steam that powers electricity-generating turbines.

"By using modular mass-manufacturable design, we are able to reach economies of scale that allow us to reduce the total cost of a power plant," says Robert Rogan, eSolar's vice president of sales and marketing. "Instead of a small number of big things, we build a big number of small things."