As this blog recently reminded its readers Google has invested in two solar thermal companies, eSolar and BrightSource. Reuters reporter Poornima Gupta (with editing by Toni Reinhold) now informs the Carbon Market Community about the status of a prototype mirror. Google.org Bill Weihl expects the solar energy product ready in one to three years.
The German industrial giant Ferrostaal will use solar technology from eSolar in power plants to be built in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. eSolar is the California startup backed by Google and other investors. Bill Gross, eSolar’s founder and chairman, said the Ferrostaal agreement continues the startup’s strategy of striking deals with deep-pocketed partners… “We’re looking for partners all over that have that kind of strength to make these plants go forward.” eSolar already signed an agreement with a Chinese industrial company to build solar power plants that would generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity; and, last year, eSolar agreed to license its technology to an Indian developer that plans to build solar projects with a total capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
Google-sponsored R&D (Research and Development) has focused on affordable renewable energy; and, since solar thermal energy is one of the more cost-effective types, Google has looked at unusual materials for the mirror’s reflective surface and substrate. Solar thermal electric power plants use fields of mirrors. When the mirrors track the sun, then the plants collect more solar energy.
Weihl said he has discussed the new heliostat technology with eSolar and BrightSource. “There is a decent chance that in a small number of years, we could have a 2-X reduction in cost,” he said.