Google close to solar energy breakthrough

Google Solar Panel Project

We all know Google as being a company specializing in the world’s leading search engine. Did you ever even think that they had their hands in any other industry? Well, on Friday they announced that they are on the verge of a breakthrough in solar panel technology. By ‘on the verge’ I really mean 2-3 years, but still that’s not that far away.

They say that this breakthrough prototype mirror that they developed which reflects the sun’s rays and heats up a material to create steam and thus, energy is going to cut the cost of the renewable energy source in half. This is a big deal because the biggest knock that solar power has had until now is the high cost compared to oil and coal. If the cost is cut in half then it can open the door for further use, which would lead to even lower cost.

Interestingly enough, Google has actually invested in two solar power companies and they also develop technologies in house, as is the case with this potential breakthrough. Recently on CNN (for a totally unrelated reason), Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt said that renewable energy is going to be the leading industry for the future and the US should invest in it more to create jobs. When he initially said it, I thought to myself that it’s a bit strange for him to say that since his company is not in the same industry at all, or even close to it. However, now it all makes sense to me that he felt comfortable saying that. This was almost a hint to what Google was going to announce only a day or two later.

Google sits on a lot of cash in their balance sheet. So much in fact, that in the past they were criticized for not putting some of that money to work in some way. This was before they acquired YouTube and likely before they invested in these two solar companies. I have no idea what Google’s 10-15 or 20 year plan is but, I wonder if they plan to make their energy division a key part of their company and on par with their search engine. Based on what their CEO said about the renewable energy industry, it would make sense that they would look to be major players in it.