While BrightSource may have found a way to build its first plant without government backing, analysts say, the stimulus will certainly help. "The financing just wasn't there in this climate," says Brian Fan, director of research at the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco research firm. "But now, existing projects in the pipeline, especially renewable-generation projects that have good strong companies behind them like BrightSource, will be considered very favorably."
BrightSource execs recognize that they can't get ahead of themselves. They have yet to break ground at Ivanpah, and the plant, even if it goes up on schedule, won't begin operations until at least 2011. Still, as he leaves what he hopes will be the worst of the company's financial problems behind, Jenkins-Stark is willing to talk about solar energy's big dreams once again. "I think we have the ingredients to be the largest solar technology developer and owner of solar assets in the world," he says. "I've seen this movie before, but this time, it's real."