Google and GE, both of which certainly didn't start out in the solar arena, have made a number of big solar energy announcements in the last week.
Google announced that it was investing €3.5 million (approximately $5 million) into an 18.7-MW solar power plant in Germany. The power plant, which will be located near Berlin, is expected to generate enough power for 5,000 German homes. 70% of the solar panels will come from Germany. This is Google's first cleantech investment outside of the United States. Of course, with an extremely renewable-energy-friendly government in Germany, investment there comes easy.
It was also announced today that Google would invest considerably more money here in the U.S. in a utility-scale solar thermal project in the California desert being planned by BrightSource Energy. The project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, will include three concentrating solar thermal plants. Google is investing $168 million into the project and BrightSource also just announced that it has secured $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project. The other investor in the project is NRG Solar. The Ivanpah solar power plant is expected to have a capacity of 392 MW, meaning it could generate enough electricity for approximately 85,000 homes. It is expected to be in operation in 2013. This is Google's largest energy investment yet, far surpassing the $38.8 million it invested in two wind farms in North Dakota last year.
GE One-Ups Google
While Google is clearly dedicated to cleantech and putting a ton of money into it, GE's announced an even bigger announcement in the past week. It and PrimeStar Solar, which it just announced it has acquired, have developed what has just been independently verified as the most efficient cadmium-telluride thin film solar cell on the market. In combination with the announcements above, GE let the world know that it is investing $600 million into manufacturing this efficient, cheap solar technology. It will build a manufacturing factory in the U.S. that is projected to produce 400 MW worth of solar panels each year and create 600 jobs.
These technology big boys seem to have a clear vision of where the future is brightest -- in the solar energy market.
Photo Credit: BrightSource Energy