For $1M, Google wants you to build a solar inverter that’s ‘the size of a small laptop’

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  • Google’s Little Box challenge, first announced in May, is now open to applications from anyone who thinks they can design and build a very small solar inverter. Google is offering $1 million in prize money.
  • Google wants to “shrink [the inverter] to the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th its current size” and have it operate at 95% efficiency (or more), amongst other stipulations.
  • Google hope that the new inverters can be used to “create low-cost microgrids,” better connect more renewables, distributed energy and electric vehicles to the grid, and meet other, as yet unknown, needs of the evolving grid.

Google is entering the grid hardware and software market with a bang. Google’s “Bottom Up Grid” project aims to create “advanced electrical power conversion and conditioning solutions that aim to fundamentally change the world of power.”

Inverters are used to connect distributed energy resources like solar panels, electric vehicles, and batteries to the grid by converting DC generation to useable AC electricity — but they are currently the size of a large hamper. A smaller and smarter inverter would significantly accelerate any move to a more distributed energy future.

Recommended Reading:

GreenTech Media: Google’s $1M Challenge: A Laptop-Sized Solar Inverter
Google: Little Box Challenge opens for submissions
Google: Detailed Inverter Specifications, Testing Procedure, and Technical Approach and Testing Application Requirements for the Little Box Challenge