Google is working on new mirrors to make solar thermal power significantly cheaper, Reuters reports. If it works, the technology could reduce the cost of building a plant to draw power from the sun by 25% or more. “We've been looking at very unusual materials for the mirrors both for the reflective surface as well as the substrate that the mirror is mounted on,” says the Internet giant's green energy boss. Working prototypes should be ready in a few months.
The company also is experimenting with turbines that run on solar power instead of natural gas. “In two to three years we could be demonstrating a significant scale pilot system that would generate a lot of power and would be clearly mass manufacturable,” says Bill Weihl. The cost of electricity “would be in the 5 cents or sub-5-cents a kilowatt hour range," down from 12 to 18 cents using the current technology.