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Google Power Technology

Google Invests In World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-plenty-of-sun dept.
cylonlover writes "Google has chipped in a US$168 million investment in what will be the world's largest solar power tower plant. To be located on 3,600 acres of land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will boast 173,000 heliostats that will concentrate the sun's rays onto a solar tower standing approximately 450 feet (137 m) tall. The plant commenced construction in October 2010 and is expected to generate 392 MW of solar energy following its projected completion in 2013."
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Google Invests In World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant

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  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:53PM (#35811496)

    Right. 70 birds over 3.3 years.

    And if you read it, it says 81% of the deaths were because of birds flying into the structure (broken mandibles), apparently mistaking mirrors for blue sky. There were 13 birds total that got singed because of entering the "standby points", patches of sky, where mirrors are focused when NOT in use. Simply dispersing these focus points solves this problem.

    Your average flat roadway kills more birds in 6 month than this entire facility in 3 years.

  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:35PM (#35811936) Journal
    392 MW sounds like a lot, until you consider that's only ~8% of Fukashima. [wikipedia.org]
  • by thermopile (571680) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:46PM (#35812070) Homepage
    Wait, wait, wait. I was an engineer closely involved in a review of this project, and the BrightSource engineers were vehement in their protests against this kind of argument. I feel compelled to share their thinking.

    This is NOT intended to be a 24/7 power supply. It is only a "surge" power supply, intended to produce (and sell) power when power is most needed: during the afternoon hours when things get really hot in LA and everyone starts cranking their A/C units. In fact, the heliostats are arranged to favor the afternoon sun -- if you look at the pictures, you'll see the heliostat is not a perfect circle. There are more mirrors on the east side of the tower, so that when the sun is in the west, more light gets reflected back onto the tower.

    They openly admit they couldn't compete if they were trying to be a 24/7 power supplier. And that's not the point. They don't have energy storage (molten salt, etc.) to be able to keep producing heat at night -- that would be additional infrastructure to support selling power when there's a lower profit margin. They can sell power at a higher price when power is most needed, in the afternoons.

    Others on the internet have accused this plant of being a "natural gas plant" in disguise, which is laughably wrong. The natural gas boiler is *tiny* and serves only to warm up the boilers faster in the morning hours.

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