The current crop of solar technology isn’t good enough for Google (GOOG), so it will build its own.
Speaking at a Reuters clean tech summit, the company’s green energy czar Bill Weihl said it’s developing its own mirror technology for solar thermal plants, exploring “unusual materials for the mirrors both for the reflective surface as well as the substrate that the mirror is mounted on.” Solar thermal uses big reflective dishes to generate power.
Google wants to halve the cost of such solar plants, says Weihl. Right now the typical cost is 12 to 18 cents a kilowatt hour (or $600 million to a $1 billion for a 250 MW installation–enough to power around 75,000 homes). Google thinks it can get that down to 5 cents or less in the next two to three years. It will have the new technology ready to show off internally in the next few months.
Weihl thinks there’s too few breakthrough ideas in clean tech, and the government isn’t spending enough on new solutions. He thinks the government should spend $20-$30 billion over the next 10 years on solar. Reuters notes that Google has put less than $50 million into other companies working on green tech..
The reason they’ve spent less than $50 million to date? There hasn’t been much worth investing in.
There’s no mention of how much money Google is putting into this project, but in an interview with Grist last year, he said Google would “invest tens of millions of dollars each year over the next few years in our own people, lab space, building prototypes, and investing in start-up companies.”
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