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Google builds prototype mirror for solar energy

San Francisco: Internet giant Google, has developed a prototype for a new mirror technology that could cut by half the cost of building a solar thermal plant. According to Bill Weihl, company’s green energy czar if development and testing go well, he could see the product being ready in one to three years. “Things have progressed. We have an internal prototype” Weihl said in an interview, according to Reuters.

Google has been looking at unusual materials for the mirror’s reflective surface and the substrate on which the mirror is mounted. In solar thermal technology, the sun’s energy is used to heat a substance that produces steam to run a turbine. Mirrors focus the sun’s rays on the heated substance. “There is a decent chance that in a small number of years, we could have a 2-X reduction in cost,” said Weihl.

Google has invested in two solar thermal companies, eSolar and BrightSource, with which it has discussed the new mirror technology, Weihl said. He said the technology was not at a stage where it could be tested externally, but he added that both eSolar and BrightSource were interested in it.

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