Google invests $168 Million in Solar Plant


Google has invested $168 million in a solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy. Located on 3,600 acres of U.S. BLM managed land in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) is a 392 megawatt (gross) solar thermal power facility developed by BrightSource Energy.When constructed, Ivanpah will be the first large-scale solar thermal project built in California in nearly two decades, and the largest in the world. The Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the United States today and nearly equal the amount of total solar installed in the United States in 2009 alone.

“We need smart capital to transform our energy sector and build a clean energy future. This is our largest investment to date, and we’ve now invested over $250 million in the clean energy sector. We’re excited about Ivanpah because our investment will help deploy a compelling solar energy technology that provides reliable clean energy, with the potential to significantly reduce costs on future projects.

Power towers, which have been successfully demonstrated in the U.S. and abroad at smaller scale, are based on a relatively simple idea. The technology works by using a field of mirrors, called heliostats, to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a solar receiver on top of a tower. The solar receiver generates steam, which then spins a traditional turbine and generator to make electricity. Power towers are very efficient because all those mirrors focus a tremendous amount of solar energy onto a small area to produce steam at high pressure and temperature (up to 1000 degrees F). Think about burning a tuft of grass with a magnifying glass, only multiplied by thousands (or the original application: Archimedes’ heat ray that allegedly used mirrors to burn enemy ships!).” writes Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations on the Google Official blog.

- Vallabh Rao @raovallab