Google Inc is planning to develop its own mirror technology for solar energy that could be more cheaper and accessible to the masses, reducing the cost of building solar thermal plants by a quarter or more.
Google’s plan is to reduce costs by at least half, but ideally by 66% to 75% so costs come in around $0.05 or less per kilowatt, compared to the technology available on the market today in which a 250-MW solar thermal installation costs $0.12 to $0.15 a KWh. “Typically what we’re seeing is $2.50 to $4 a watt (for) capital cost. So a 250 megawatt installation would be $600 million to a $1 billion. It’s a lot of money.”, Bill Weihl told Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday.
In the next few months Google plans to have a viable technology to show internally. They will need to do accelerated testing to show the impact of decades of wear on the new mirrors in desert conditions. Another idea that Google is working on is gas turbines that would run on solar power rather than natural gas. Weihl said that this technology has the potential to cut the electricity costs even more.
“In two to three years we could be demonstrating a significant pilot system that would generate a lot of power and would be clearly mass manufacturable at a cost that would give us a leveled cost of electricity that would be in the 5 cents or sub 5 cents a kilowatt hour range,” Weihl said.