A new patent application from Google, for a “heliostat control system” that automatically adjusts solar thermal mirrors to their optimal energy-harvesting angle.
The concentrated solar technology makes use of a camera to adjust mirrors that optimize a given plant’s efficiency.
The camera and a processing computer are located within the central tower of the solar thermal plant, and if a misalignment, or better (more efficient) angle is detected, then the mirrors are adjusted by robotic actuators.
Google already invested $168 million in the world’s largest solar tower in the Mojave Desert as part of its effort to both reduce its own massive electricity bill and diversify its business. It’s also currently hiring three new technical staff to make this happen.
The new patented solution:
A heliostat control system includes a receiver located within a receiver volume and a view port located proximate to the receiver volume. The receiver is configured to receive sunlight reflected from a mirror of a heliostat. The view port is optically connected to a camera, and the camera is configured to generate an image including pixels having a brightness dependent on an orientation of the mirror.