Google expanded its products portfolio from search engine to solar energy. They had invested $168 million in a Mojave Desert facility on 3,600 acres of land which will become the world’s largest solar power tower plant.
According to Gizmag “the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will boast 173,000 heliostats that will concentrate the solar energy onto a solar power tower standing approximately 450 feet (137 m) tall.” The solar power plant construction started by Google in October 2010 is expected to generate 392 MW of solar energy when will be finished in 2013.
Solar power tower development of Google may offer higher efficiency and better solar energy storage capabilities. Google parabolic systems consist in a set of parabolic mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto a Dewar tube running the length of the mirror through which a heat transfer fluid runs that is then used to heat steam in a standard turbine.
Solar power tower systems such as the ISEGS on the other hand focus a large area of sunlight into a single solar power receiver on top of a tower to produce steam at high pressure and temperatures of up to 550 ° C (over 1,000° F) to drive a standard turbine and generator. The ISEGS also uses a dry-cooling technology that reduces water consumption by 90 percent and uses 95 percent less water than competing solar thermal technologies. Water is also recirculated during solar energy before being reused to clean the plant’s mirrors.
According to BrightSource Energy, the plant developer, this will be the first large-scale solar power tower plant built in the U.S. in nearly two decades and will single-handedly almost double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today and nearly equal the amount of total solar installed in the U.S. in 2009 alone.