Google invests $168 million in solar power plant

April 11, 2011
Solar panels are seen in Glendora, California, in 2009. Google said Monday it has invested $168 million to help complete the construction of one of the world's biggest solar energy power plants in California's Mojave Desert.

Google said Monday it has invested $168 million to help complete the construction of one of the world's biggest solar energy power plants in California's Mojave Desert.

The plant, which is being developed by BrightSource Energy, will generate 392 gross megawatts (MW) of clean solar energy when it is completed in 2013, enough to supply power to 85,000 homes a year.

"That's the equivalent of taking more than 90,000 cars off the road over the lifetime of the plant, projected to be more than 25 years," Google's director of green business operations Rick Needham said in a blog post.

"The investment makes business sense and will help ensure that one of the world's largest solar energy projects is completed," Needham said.

The US Department of Energy said meanwhile that it has finalized $1.6 billion in loan guarantees to support the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System.

"Today's announcement is creating over 1,000 jobs in California while laying the foundation for thousands more clean energy jobs across the country in the future," US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

"Through the loan program we are supporting some of the largest, most innovative clean energy projects in the world, and those investments are helping us to out-compete and out-innovate our global competitors to win the future," Chu said.

President Barack Obama's administration has been encouraging companies to invest in green growth, calling it a new source of jobs and fearing that other nations -- led by China -- are stealing the march.

The Ivanpah project uses mirrors called heliostats to focus the rays of the sun onto a solar receiver on top of a tower. Steam generated by the solar receiver spins a turbine and generator to make electricity.

The Ivanpah Power Tower will be 450 feet (137 meters) tall when it is completed and will use more than 173,000 dual-mirror heliostats.

The project is being built by US engineering giant Bechtel and construction began in October 2010.

The Mountain View, California-based Google said the BrightSource investment brings the company's total investment in clean energy projects to $250 million.

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4 / 5 (7) Apr 11, 2011
Great. Now they "only" need around 150 more of these to power all of California's residential needs...during the day...for the next 25 years.

The good thing is these plants will pay for themselves around 8 to 10 times or so during their life time, as solar boilers are 2 to 3 times more efficient than panels...

This particular power plant will produce anywhere from 4.29 billion dollars to 6.43 billion dollars worth of electricity in it's 25 year life time, at CURRENT prices...Which is easily a 1000% to 1500% return on investment, if not a lot more...

This makes solar boiler power plants one of the best investments a person or company can possibly make going out 25 years, and definitely beats the hell out of stocks or bonds.
3 / 5 (4) Apr 11, 2011
This is 'investment' and not retail sales. Caveat emptor.
1 / 5 (3) Apr 11, 2011
How many square feet is this solar plant? Is the solar plant which Google says can still generate a profit without tax subsidies? I wish them luck but "Let the buyer beware".
1 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2011
I am interested in the effects it has on the soil. Is the soil much cooler? And will it become fertile in a few decades?

The investment could return alot more then just energy.
1 / 5 (3) Apr 11, 2011
How many tax credits did they get?
If its good enough for GE, why not Google?
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
Glendora is not in the Mojave desert; it's next to my town in LA county.
4 / 5 (4) Apr 11, 2011
I was thinking, based on how much energy this one makes compared to the solar trough plant, this plant is roughly 9 times bigger.

Now the solar trough boiler plant converts around 10,000 gallons per minute to steam at 725f.

So this plant probably does around 90,000 gallons of water per minute to have the stated power levels.
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2011
This has been a paying investment for 20 years, what took big money so long to see it?

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