Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Mar 08

Google Plans New Solar Mirror Technology

Posted in Ethanol Fuel

google-solar-mirror 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.”

Related Articles:

  • Jillian Wolf

    Wonderful! Looking to Google to put together a social networking site that’s green. Facebook, I think, has proven the value of communicating with virtually millions of people online, but the developers are building a their new center with an eye toward powering it with coal. Old model… yesterday’s news.

  • Arun Kumar

    This is the way to do it ground up from believers and top down believers like Google for the adoption of green technologies.

  • tgs

    Google is taking over the world!!! I like this idea of Google moving into other sectors of technology. I think they will do great. I wonder what is next for this company… electric car manufacturer?

  • DLS

    I’m still waiting on an affordable energy retrofit for the average home. What will that new energy source look like? I’m waiting like millions of Americans. Will we develop it first or will we let the Chinese develop it first? I will buy Chinese, but I deeply want it to be an American product that would put millions back to work.

  • Jillian

    I know, right?! Job Corps has all these volunteers putting weather stripping into low income homes… talk about bandaids! I’m buying a house now and tried like hell to go green… even with building it into an 800 sq ft building new, it’s incredibly expensive. I hate that I’m buying conventional, knowing that the home is outdated as I’m handing over the money. I can’t imagine retrofitting will be cheaper than putting it in from the getgo.

  • Adal

    This is all very exciting: learning to efficiently concentrate and exploit the rays of the sun is THE WAY to go IMHO

  • eliwagar1

    When it comes down to it, we are looking at solar power generation in two beneficial aspects. One is the environmentally responsible nature of solar energy. The second is that once the generation devices are installed, the energy is cost effective.

    There are not to many choices that you can make that is both good for the environment, and will save money. I see this as a win win situation, as Google has proven itself over and over again to be innovative, I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

  • VIrupaxgouda

    I would like to know more about the Mirror for solar applications.
    Are the mirrors under production?

Google Biodome: New Headquarters to Blend with Environment


Today Google announced their exciting proposal to redevelop four sites in Mountain View, California. Designed by Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio, the new headquarters will

Two Wind Farms get Investment from Google

Two Wind Farms get Investment from Google

Now big companies are going green and proudly proclaiming it too from rooftops. Google Inc. has invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms. This is the first

Google and Microsoft Building Smart Power Grids

Google and Microsoft Building Smart Power Grids

If you think the two technology giants Google and Microsoft compete only on cloud-based applications and new-age search engines, you’ll be surprised to know that they are making forays

Harnessing High Winds With Giant Kites

Harnessing High Winds With Giant Kites

People are trying various sources to produce alternative energy. We have often witnessed children flying kites. But very few of us have given a thought to generate energy from

Google Earth Shows the Effects of Global Warming

Google Earth Shows the Effects of Global Warming

Google recently launched Earth Outreach as part of an effort to provide non-profit and public benefit organizations the knowledge and resources they need to reach hearts and minds in

500MW Solar Plant Coming to California

500MW Solar Plant Coming to California

Pacific Gas and Electric has announced plans to work with BrightSource Energy to three four or more huge solar thermal electric generators in the Mojave desert. The first plant

Google SketchUp Goes Green!

Google SketchUp Goes Green!

There is great potential for free software like Google SketchUp to play a role in the development of future small and large scale alternative energy technologies. Google SketchUp is free

Solar Energy System for Google Headquarters

Solar Energy System for Google Headquarters

Google Inc. plans to build a massive solar-electricity system to help power parts of its Mountain View, Calif., campus that it says will benefit both the environment and its bottom