Thinking small, South Africans develop affordable solar power prototype that stumped Google
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — By thinking small, a group of South African scientists may have pioneered solar technology that has stumped Internet giant Google.
The Helio100 project, based at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape province, is a cost-effective heliostat that harnesses solar power to generate electricity.
A heliostat uses mirrors or lenses to reflect sunlight, concentrating the solar energy onto a receiver tower, which then uses centuries old steam power to generate electricity, explains Sebastian-James Bode, a 28-year-old research engineer working on the South African project.
Until now, building heliostat plants has been prohibitively expensive. In 2011, Google announced that it halted its own heliostat project after researchers could not design an inexpensive model.
Photo Credit: Rainer Lippert