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Google invests in world's largest solar power tower plant

By Laura Brown - 22 Apr 2011 16:0:0 GMT
Google invests in world's largest solar power tower plant

Google has invested almost $170 million in the world's largest solar power tower plant, being built in America's Mojave Desert. Part of Google's ongoing commitment to clean energy solutions, the investment is its largest so far in a single project.

According to gizmag, The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will be based on 3,600 acres of land in the desert in southern California.

The more traditional method of solar power is photovoltaic. That converts the sun's heat into electricity. A solar power tower plant, by comparison, uses thousands of heliostats focusing the sun's rays on one central tower.

Steam is produced at high pressure with temperatures reaching over 1,000° Fto power a turbine or generator. The solar tower at the new plant is approximately 450 feet tall. It's believed solar power tower systems may be more efficient than their trough counterparts. At the Mojave Desert facility, it's estimated water consumption will be cut by 90%.

Work began on the plant in October 2010. It's expected to be completed by 2013 with three separate plants covering the site. The facility is estimated to be able to generate 392 MW of solar energy, enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during peak times of day.

Its developer, BrightSource Energy claims, as the US' first large scale solar power tower plant in nearly two decades, it will double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy produced in America. CO2 emissions will be reduced by more than 400,000 tons per year.

Good for the environment and good for the economy; the new plant is expected to create hundreds of new jobs in California.

The $168 million  investment is the second made by Google into clean energy in a month. Last week it put $20million into CoolPlanetBiofuels.