Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Solar Trees

Google Announces 1.6 Megawatt Solar "Campus: Mountain View, California

Google's entire corporate campus in Mountain View, CA is going to become a 1.6 megawattphotovoltaic installation.


As one of the most recognizable brands on the Internet, Google is on a mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Like many of today's high-tech companies, Google requires an enormous amount of electricity to power the computers and servers it uses to run its business. The company wanted to find a way to reduce energy costs at its Mountain View "Googleplex," as well as make a statement in support of clean energy.

The Challenge:

Unlike the typical "big box" buildings found on most high-tech campuses, Google headquarters features structures with unique configurations, sharp angles, and other architecturally unusual design elements.

The Smart Solution:

Intelligent use of available mounting surfacesBecause of the nontraditional design of the Google buildings, the EI Solutions team had to take a nontraditional approach to engineering the company's solar power system. To maximize energy output, the team assessed every available surface on the Google campus for its viability to hold solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. Eventually, more than 197,000 square feet on top of existing buildings and new parking lot shade structures (designed especially for the project) were fitted with cells using customized mounting hardware. To help reduce the cost of such a large installation, plus simplify any future maintenance needs, EI Solutions used one type of PV module in all arrays.

To further optimize the Google system, EI Solutions also closely examined the company's electricity usage patterns, available financial incentives, and the amount of sun received at its Mountain View headquarters.

The Result:

By building the largest solar power system ever installed at a single corporate campus, Google will save more than $393,000 annually in energy costs — or close to $15 million over the 30-year lifespan of its solar system. At this rate, the system will pay for itself in approximately 7.5 years.

This installation will include almost 200,000 square feet of photovoltaic arrays on top of Google's buildings as well as parking lot shade structures (a greatdual-use that generates electricity as well as shading the cars parked in thesun all day so they need less air conditioning and thus use less fuel).

Hybrids will get a charge out of the Energy Innovations carport at a Vacaville, California, park-and-ride lot with plug-in chargers.

Whether this was prompted by the recent passage of pro-solar power legislation in California or not, it will be one of the largest corporate solarinstallations, and is expected to result in almost $400,000 in annual energy costs at today's rates and is expected to pay for itself within 7.5 years.

"Absolutely brilliant: Parking lots covered with solar panels, which generate electricity while providing shade for cars. Last year, I appropriated the term breathtaking inanity (the new irrational exuberance). This year, perhaps a more positive phrase is in order, “breathtaking ingenuity.” "

Just an interesting thought.

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