Cliff Champion

Google Ups Research & Development to Make Solar Cheaper than Coal

by , 06/09/11

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It’s no mystery that Google is an internet powerhouse, but within the last couple of years, they have expanded their efforts to make big changes in the way we power our homes and cities. Their goal? To create a viable renewable energy option that is cheaper than coal, and their new patented solution just might do the trick. The concentrated solar technology makes use of a camera to adjust mirrors that optimize a given plant’s efficiency. The camera and a processing computer are located within the central tower of the solar thermal plant, and if a misalignment, or better (more efficient) angle is detected, then the mirrors are adjusted by robotic actuators.

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Rather than focusing their efforts on lowering the cost of current solar technology, they have chosen to invest in the search for new solutions that could win the race against coal. In addition to hiring three new technology specialists for their R&D department, they’ve looked into grid power management strategies as well. Their PowerMeter Software coupled with their investment in various energy firms are further proof that Google is looking beyond ad-space to support their ever-growing company. In light of their $168 million dollar investment in the world’s largest solar tower in the Mojave Desert, it’s clear that Google’s sunny disposition towards renewables is here to stay.

Via Engadget

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2 Comments

  1. Miraxian June 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Mass production of solar panels does not seem to be a problem. Panels are being churned out a plenty and there is no shortage. In fact, there is going to be a bit of a surplus soon, partially due to the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

    Costs have been dropping quite a bit for the past few years. Part of this is because manufacturing costs have come down.

    Creating higher efficiency cells is still the best option.

  2. caeman June 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I wonder if maybe the time has come to try and lower the cost of solar via mass production. It seems like there are dump trucks of cash funding the efficiency of solar, when we ALSO need high-capacity production facilities. Often, scale of production has reduced pricing of items faster than superior technology.

    If panels can be made cheap enough, say, $1 per 12″x12″, you make it so that Joe Average can cover his roof with them. If those panels only reduce Joe Average’s electric bill by 25%, that becomes a huge number across the many millions more that could afford cheap panels and save just as much.

    Google, if you are reading this, fund a mass production plant!

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