Google, IEEE offer $1 million for ‘laptop’ sized power inverter

NEW DELHI: Tech giant Google is offering a prize of USD one million (about Rs 6 crore) for building a compact solution for transforming renewable energy into a power source that can be used at home.

Google, along with Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), has started a ‘Little Box Challenge’ to design and build a kW-scale power inverter, a device used to convert renewable energy, including solar and wind, before transforming it into suitable current for home and vehicles.

The challenge is that the new device has to be of the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th of the current size.

“We are looking for someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. Do it best and we will give you a million bucks,” Google said in a blogpost.

Google believes that this will help “change the future of electricity”.

“We believe that inverters will become increasingly important to our economy and environment as solar PV, batteries, and similar power sources continue their rapid growth,” Google said.

It added that the innovation coming in will have wide applicability across areas, will increase efficiency, drive down costs and open up new use cases.

Google said making the power inverter smaller would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficiently distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet.

“A smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world. Or allow you to keep the lights on during a blackout via your electric car’s battery. Or enable advances we haven’t even thought of yet,” Eric Raymond from Google’s Green Team wrote.

The last date for registration is September 30, 2014, while the grand prize winner will be announced in January 2016.

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