Google Plans New Solar Mirror Technology
Posted in Ethanol Fuel
Google’s Bill Weihl expresses his opinion, “We see a chance to make a difference in the field of renewable energy and energy information that can help bring the world to a lower carbon and more efficient economy.” Google is known for its Internet search engine. Now they want to make inroads into green technology too. They declared in 2007 that they want to invest in clean and green technology and want to do research of their own in the field of alternative energy. Now Google’s engineers are putting their effort and energy into solar technology. We all know that solar power is clean and green fuel. But the cost of solar panels prevents us from utilizing solar energy extensively. Now Google Inc. is trying to come up with its own solar panel with a reduced cost of 25%.
They are developing a new mirror technology for cheaper solar power. Weihl confirms, “Typically what we’re seeing is $2.50 to $4 a watt (for) capital cost. So a 250 megawatt installation would be $600 million to a $1 billion. It’s a lot of money.” That amounts to 12 to 18 cents a kilowatt/hour. They are using solar energy to heat up a substance that produces steam. This steam will turn the wheels of turbines. Mirrors will start the whole process by directing the sun’s rays on the substance to heat it up. Bill Weihl reaffirms his company’s commitment, “We’ve been looking at very unusual materials for the mirrors both for the reflective surface as well as the substrate that the mirror is mounted on.”
Weihl said Google is trying to reduce the cost of making heliostats, the fields of mirrors that have to track the sun, by at least a factor of two, “ideally a factor of three or four.”
Google is trying to develop a feasible technology in a couple of months to show internally. They are also opting for the accelerated testing so that they can find out the impact of decades of wear and tear on the new mirrors while they are installed in desert. Bill Weihl confirms, “We’re not there yet. I’m very hopeful we will have mirrors that are cheaper than what companies in the space are using…”
Google is also going for another technology — gas turbines — that would derive energy from solar power rather than natural gas. This will help Google office to reduce their electricity bill further.
Weihl shares his enthusiasm for future power generation, “In two to three years we could be demonstrating a significant scale pilot system that would generate a lot of power and would be clearly mass manufacturable at a cost that would give us a levelized cost of electricity that would be in the 5 cents or sub 5 cents a kilowatt hour range.”
Google is aiming to make the alternative form of energy cheaper than the energy generated from coal. Earlier Google was investing in other green companies. But later on they decided to develop their own clean and green technology. They discovered that most of the companies lack innovative ideas to replace dependence on fossil fuels. That’s why they are actively involved in coming up with their own new green technology.
First, Google people have put their own house in order. Goggle’s data centers make sure that 300 million web searches take place smoothly. But these searches translate into huge costs as they devour mammoth amount of electricity. Google put his team of intellectuals to come up with more efficient and less power consuming designs. This step reduced the servers’ consumption of energy by half. Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters installed solar panels producing 1.6 MW of solar energy. Their carefully selected carbon offsets, has helped the company become carbon-neutral. According to Weihl the side effects are quite pleasant, “In the process we’re saving ourselves a lot of money by making ourselves more efficient.”