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Google invests in the world's largest solar power tower plant

Google has invested $168 million in a new solar energy power plant that is being developed by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert in California. 

Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will generate 392 MW of clean, solar energy, which Google said was like taking over 90,000 cars off the road over the 25 year-plus projected lifetime of the plant.

Google_BSEs_Solar_Energy_Development_CenterThe Ivanpah Power Tower measures in at approximately 450 feet, and will use 173,000 heliostats, each with two mirrors. The project is being constructed by Bechtel, and construction began in October 2010, with a projected completion date in 2013. It is also financed by NRG and with clean energy technology loan guarantees provided by the US Department of Energy.

Power towers are based on a relatively simple idea – by using a field of mirrors called heliostats, the sun’s rays are concentrated onto a solar receiver on top of a tower. The solar receiver then generates steam, which in-turn spins a traditional turbine and generator to make electricity. Power towers are extremely efficient as all the 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!),” Google explained in its statement.

The investment brings Google's tally to $250 million in the clean energy sector, with this being the largest investment till date.


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