Google Invests $168 million in BrightSource Energy's MSP
Written By: John Shimkus
Google is no stranger to renewable energy investment, but now the Internet behemoth has its eyes set on bigger fish. BrightSource Energy’s proposed solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert will be one of the largest solar energy projects in the United States and will double the solar thermal installed capacity in the U.S. Google has made a $168 million equity investment in the project, along with NRG Energy’s $300 million investment and $1.6 billion in loans from the U.S. federal government.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will be constructed in California’s Mojave Desert. The project will provide 2,600 MW of grid electricity, powering 140,000 homes.
The facility uses thermal solar energy as opposed to photovoltaic panels. Thousand’s of reflective mirrors will superheat fluids to drive a steam turbine. The Ivanpah plant will recycle the steam back into water to reduce water consumption by 95 percent compared to similar facilities.
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"We’re excited to be making our largest clean energy investment to date. With this investment, we’re helping to deploy the first commercial plant of a potentially transformative solar technology able to deliver clean energy at scale," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google, in a statement. "Ivanpah will be the largest solar power tower project in the world, able to produce clean electricity at the highest efficiency of any solar thermal plant. We hope it can serve as a proof point and spur further investment in this exciting technology."
The project has been forcibly scaled back from original plans due to the location infringing on the habitat of endangered desert tortoises. The solar thermal plant will displace roughly 140 tortoises, and animal rights groups have been combating Ivanpah and other solar projects in the area. Ridiculous? Most certainly… but biodiversity is important. Nonetheless, I’m sure one could find a new home for 140 tortoises. Not to mention that once the facility is installed, the shelled critters would be able to live just as comfortably in the same area as the solar mirrors, maybe even with a little added shade!
Tesla records $1.1bn quarterly profit
Tesla recorded $1.1 billion net income in the second quarter, for the first time in its history, overcoming semiconductor chip shortages and other supply chain challenges.
Spurred by record levels of global demand and 'never-before-seen inflection point' for electric vehicles, production ran close to full capacity, and a quarterly highlight was the launch of the Tesla Vision. Total revenues were just under $12 billion and year-on-year production increased from 180,338 models to 206,421.
Technology will continue to be key to the carmaker's future. "Solving full autonomy is a difficult engineering challenge in which we continue to believe can only be solved through the collection of large, real-world datasets and cutting-edge AI," it said.
Progress is being made on the industrialisation of the Cybertruck, which is earmarked for production at Austin. The removal of radar, which is enabled by its collection of a vast dataset of corner cases, allows Tesla to focus on vision and increase the pace of improvement - the first customers have downloaded FSD V9 Beta this month.
Geographic production breakdowns were as follows:
- US California and Texas production ramp of Model S progressed and majority of all Model 3/Y was delivered, and Texas Gigafactory (pictured below) continues to progress
- Shanghai production remained strong despite 'minor' supply chain challenges and Tesla has completed the transition of Gigafactory Shanghai as the primary vehicle export hub
- Europe Berlin-Brandenburg demand (main photo) remains well above supply, resulting in growing wait times for delivery, and new equipment and testing tools are being introduced, with growing import volumes in the interim
- The company is "on track" to build its first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin this year but pressures on batteries and supply chains means the Semi truck program has been pushed back to 2022
Tesla said it has successfully validated performance and lifetime of its 4680 battery cells produced at its Kato facility in California but "we still have work ahead of us" before it can achieve volume production. Energy storage deployments more than tripled, driven mainly by several Megapack projects, although energy storage production continues to be held back by supply chain challenges, given its long backlog. Solar deployments reached 85MW in Q2, a triple jump on Q2 2020.
Gigafactory Texas: Model Y factory construction