Google Puts Up $1 Million Little Box Challenge For Solar Inverter Innovation As Obama Administration Pushes Renewable Energy - HotHardware
Google Puts Up $1 Million Little Box Challenge For Solar Inverter Innovation As Obama Administration Pushes Renewable Energy

Google Puts Up $1 Million Little Box Challenge For Solar Inverter Innovation As Obama Administration Pushes Renewable Energy

Google is kind of involved in everything, and the company is tackling clean energy with gusto, too. In conjunction with a White House push for renewable energy and agreements from some 300 organizations to pursue clean energy options that includes 1 billion square feet of buildings in the U.S. (and a $2 billion investment in making federal buildings more energy efficient), Google announced that it’s created the Little Box Challenge to foster clean energy innovation.

Google Little Box Challenge

Specifically, the company will pony up $1 million for whoever comes up with the best (that is, smallest, cheapest, and most effective) power inverter.

Shrinking the size and cost of power inverters will mean that solar installations around the world will be smaller, cost less, and be more efficient--and that’s actually a huge deal. For anyone who’s looked into powering their homes with solar panels, it’s apparent that the investment is large and the payoff middling. Installations are expensive, they don’t necessarily produce as much juice as one might hope (and most of us are power-hungry users), and the ROI takes a very long time.

white house solar panels
Solar panels on the roof of the White House

Even with subsidies, it’s not always a financially lucrative thing to do. However, if a better inverter can allow the price to drop, there could be a tipping point for more consumer adoption.

More details about the Little Box Challenge are forthcoming, but it’s clear that Google is high on clean energy. “We have a goal of powering our operations with 100% renewable energy, and to that end have contracted over a gigawatt of wind energy for our data centers,” reads a Google+ post. “Beyond powering our own operations, we’ve also committed over $1 billion to 16 renewable energy projects around the world.”
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So they have completely tossed the stupid little fuel cell thing they were conned into investing in a couple of years ago then?

You know, the one the creators claimed was a worlds first and lots of other hyperbole, but it was really just a run-of-the-mill low efficiency power cell that did less than others already on the market, but had lots of high profile people promoting it.

Google does green power stuff ONLY to look better in the public's eyes. They will never be able to generate enough green juice to power even a small percent of their power hungry data centers, they know this and they do everything in their power to make people think otherwise.

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To be fair, all companies only do some things to increase PR. I honestly cannot fault them for their decision, even if that's the only motive. But I definitely think it's a good move, PR aside. I have a brother who is in the business of developing and installing solar panels and they are expensive beyond reason. Limiting the size of the inverter could make an enormous difference in the cost and complexity of installation.

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Scroogle? This sounds like the FUD I read from Microsoft shills. If you want to find companies that are truly evil, I suggest you dig deeper in companies like MS, Oracle and Monsanto. Evangelists of MS are routinely trying to slander all her important competitors. Google is a special target for them.

I always found Google a good company whose business model is to share the benefits. Yes, they make a lot of money, but in return they give a lot back, like excellent free products. With Bing and Skype MS does every "evil" they accuse Google of even more and still want to create lock-ins and monopolies to extort the maximum amount of money. They are driven by pure greed alone. Instead of cleaning their act they try to slander others to make them look as evil as they themselves are. But an ethical person can still see the difference in behavior.

I think this again is a good initiative and Google deserves praise for that. These kind of initiatives can help. Contrary to what people think big companies are not the big innovaters, small companies are. But small companies find it hard to find investors as long as there is no product to bring to market. Big companies are often not interested in developing new technologies as it can endanger their cash cows. They are not really interested in making things cheaper, as they can earn more on expensive products. That is why MS only tried to slow down the development of the web,

A million dollar can stimulate people with good new ideas to go for it. We have seen it work in other fields too, like the first commercial flight to space. A company like Google can work as a catalyst. If it comes to green power, the energy industry has shown little interest to develop new breakthroughs. They still have trillions of oil and gas reserves they want to sell first. But Google is one of those companies whose success relies very much on innovating quicker than others. They try to make money by outperforming others.

You say that green power can never contribute. You are very wrong. In Germany the government did not want to invest in coal or nuclear industry for electricity. They start asking around what the possibilities were for green solutions. Even the most optimistic experts said it could account for a few percent. Then a very smart minister asked them why? And he soon learned that there was no reason, they were simply parroting each other. So what he did is he devised a simple scheme in which householders would get a guaranteed price for their electricity the created with solar panels, so it would actually would be profitable. I became a huge success. Lots of people started to place solar panels. Companies came up that give people money to place solar panels on their roofs, without them having to do anything. The result? Germany now gets almost 50% of its electricity from solar panels! And the costs? They made a calculation. In my country they gave subsidies to the power companies to invest in green energy and wind mills etc. It turned out that my country the costs were higher than in Germany and indeed it only led to a few percent of green energy. So if green energy is failing it is only because the major players have no interest in seeing it succeed. Bypass those major players and things start changing. In the same way that the first successful company of electric cars does not come from the vested interest in Detroit.

We need big companies more to act like Google and take a real responsibility. And we need less of greed driven companies like MS who only act out of very narrow self-interest and rather invest in cheaper dirty tactics to achieve the same. And as a public we should be aware of the differences between company mentality and they ways they try to manipulate us. I will always respect good deeds, even from a dirty company. It is a way to stimulate them to behave better. We should not reward companies that use negative means.

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