Google Improving Mirror Technology For Making Solar Concentrators 2x Cheaper

Besides its search engine activities, Google focused on producing alternative energy technologies, or improving the existing ones. So is the case now, when Google developed a new mirror technology that could help solar companies like eSolar or BrightSource make cheaper and better solar thermal plants.

Bill Weihl, a former MIT professor, now the head of Google’s green energy technology department, told Reuters that if all things go well, we could see a final mirror being sold on the markets in one to three years. “Things have progressed,” Weihl said in an interview. “We have an internal prototype.

Solar thermal systems work by using the Sun’s energy to heat up water, producing a steam and running a turbine. The mirrors are used to focus the Sun’s heat from larger surfaces onto smaller ones, thus superheating the water containers to create steam. It is not new technology, but the materials that the mirrors are made of can continuously be improved for price and quality.

Bill Weihl

Weihl also said: “There is a decent chance that in a small number of years, we could have a 2-X reduction in cost.”

He also mentioned that Google already has an internal prototype for testing. Interesting solar thermal projects already run in locations all over the world, and there are scientists that try to further improve this technology by tweaking the price through novel configurations, by running experiments like Masdar‘s beam-down concentrator.

Solar thermal technologies, through having a more low-tech approach, are sometimes more accessible than photovoltaics and provide more immediate results with less time and expenses given to research.

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