Google Invests in Large Solar Power Project

Towers harness sun’s rays to generate electricity


Image source from ricketyus on flickr

Google is investing $168 million in the Ivanpah solar power plant, a large-scale operation that will generate 392 megawatts of electricity, the largest amount in the world. In the Mojave Desert, three separate solar power plants will be built using a technology known as power towers.

A 450 foot tall tower is surrounded by 173,000 heliostats, two mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a receiver mounted on the tower. This will trigger boilers to produce steam that will power a turbine, which in turn will generate electricity. It will be the largest solar power project in the world.

BrightSource Energy Inc. will develop and operate the plant, along with a $1.6 billion loan from the Department of Energy. The company estimates that construction of the project will create about 1,000 jobs and the plant will offer approximately $3 billion in economic benefits.

Electricity will be sold to two utility companies

Pacific Gas and Electric will buy two thirds of the power generated at the plant, while Southern California Edison will purchase the other third. All three plants will produce enough electricity to serve more than 140,000 homes in California.

Google has been investing in green electricity generation

To date, Google has invested $250 million towards developing clean energy. Last May, the company made a $38 million wind farm investment, and in July, purchased 20 years worth of wind farm energy. In October, Google invested in an offshore wind farm.

Rick Needham, Google’s Director of Green Business Operations, explained that the Ivanpah project is beneficial for the environment, as well as business.

“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” Needham said.

The Ivanpah plant is scheduled to begin generating electricity in 2013.

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