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Today at an event with President Obama, we announced the Little Box Challenge, a $1 million prize to develop the next generation of power inverters. This prize is one of Google’s many efforts to advance a clean energy future. 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. Beyond powering our own operations, we’ve also committed over $1 billion to 16 renewable energy projects around the world. Keep an eye on www.littleboxchallenge.com for more information in the coming months!
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69 comments
 
Hydro electricity is like an inverter to change gravity into electricity. Yay water. Gives life to us AND computers.
 
Did you ask him why he supports destroying net neutrality?
 
Liquid Nitrogen allowed? 
 
+Damaged Industries Uh, he said during his campaign he wants net neutrality to survive. He can only do so much, you should be blaming the senate and the FCC for taking bribes and hiring people obviously involved in the interest of companies like Comcast, not the US.
 
+Damaged Industries So? Even if he was, again, he doesn't hold enough power to do anything himself. The senate and especially the bribed FCC is the reason why net neutrality will probably die, not the president.
 
Google needs to invest in some geothermal energy production.
 
Let's here it for the Dalles Oregon. The water just keep flowing by making electricity for the Google servers.
 
+Damaged Industries Where did I say I was ok with that? Actually uneducated people who don't know how our government functions like you is the reason we are a shithole. Thanks!
 
Who said being uneducated means stupid or uninformed to the facts of real world politics. Public pressure AND corporate pressure might sway the day. MIGHT.
 
↑ By all means take your conspiracy theories somewhere else. 
 
Well, I just hope whoever makes the winning device realizes they didn't make it....if you don't believe me, ask +The White House I'm sure Obama would confirm that.
 
They need to continue Nikola Tesla's work! Permanent magnets are the future
 
Confused Google. YouTube has quantum energy generators hitting open source and growing. How bout contributing to it and bringing development into production?
 
great initiative.  we should be developing more efficient energy producing devices
 
Here is an opportunity in many ways and immediately time is wasted making it wrong instead use that energy to do what you believe is the correct thing so we don't have damaged industries it all starts with one person. Crazy realization is I just spent my time hopefully it will bring awareness of the trade-off from a positive life to a negative one. Sad G-Luck
 
good on ya Google!  Enphase is probably experiencing a Pebble reaction right about now.
 
Funny how one of The biggest topics in this country right now and not one person thus far has mentioned it....hemp..yup the plant you can grow out of the ground in the same spot over and over and over again in a matter of weeks can be used as a energy renewable resource...oh & guess what!!! It's clean, healthy and our planet loves it!! Now you know why it's illegal in most states across this nation....it is the future to all that is wrong and destructive that we are doing to this planet. One Mother Nature is gonna take herself back and wipe the virus off her body.
 
V covers da Queen as well mates...check?...Switch on>WE
 
I think there is one real big danger: cutting on reliablility
the SUNNY BOY 4000TL from SMA e.g. is one of the most reliable and sleek designs I have seen so far, and SMA will possibly be one of the first to be able to win the challenge.
http://www.sma.de/en/products/solar-inverter-without-transformer/sunny-boy-3000tl-3600tl-4000tl-5000tl-with-reactive-power-control.html
But so far they always passed on that idea of a super small box and chose a 490 / 519 / 185 mm format, which will server 99,9% of the users just fine and they come with a freaking 25year warranty, which is insane considering they have electrolyte capacitors on high current switched DC-side, but they can keep up with it.
we have 4 inverters atm, 3 of those are from SMA and the oldest is >17years old now.
All in the 4kW power range and all get only hand warm under heavy load, but the non SMA model has had 2 failures in the past (beginning) which where the result of bad cooling and bad load design and hat not been considered in the initial design.
I think it will be a real danger to do this challenge e.g. 20x20x20cm for a 4kW passively cooled inverter and not consider a realistic lifespan of the components of >25years.

Let's hope the challenge will be set to create a really usable inverter, not only a really small one.
Features need:
-DC-side manual secure cut-off
-97% worst case efficiency
-IP65 housing
-all time passive cooling
-working temperature span of at least -25-40°C
-reactive output control to help stabilize the grid instead of making it harder to keep stable
-compliance to all needed IEC norms, espc. IEC 62103 class I and IEC 60664-1 class III
-safety: ground fault monitoring, integrated residual-current monitoring unit, DC polarity and overload protection (current and voltage)
-design life span of 30years

 pretty heavy but needed stack of features (and I missed a lot)
 
No RSS feed and no email sign-up form. Google expects me to visit this website weekly now? Are we in 2014 or 1996?
 
Why do you need an inverter? Isn't it more efficient (and safer) to go to stay at lower volts? 
 
+Lance Fields We are currently undertaking some research for a product that may well fit into this remit. I will have to find out a little more info. Thanks for the Ping 
 
1 João: 4. 4. Filhinhos, vós sois de Deus, e já os tendes vencido; porque maior é aquele que está em vós do que aquele que está no mundo. - Bíblia JFA Offline
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Is it the size of the little black box or the little green box inside the black box and then how deep? ;)
Nelly K
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This goes to show you how stupid Google is in terms of hardware is concerned especially in analog.  There are thousands of analog power engineers who can design the simple version on the fly from schematic to pcb layout.
 
Please people make this work! & btw I'm chipping in another $10 bucks for the winning team.
 
I'd like to see a tiny inverter per panel that can be efficiently paralleled getting the best it can out of each panel.  Intermittent shading, dirt, different temperatures, etc, ruins the performance of my rooftop array.  I see about half of the nominal output.  Quite a lot of rooftops don't support an optimal array layout and I'm not willing to cut trees down to improve my solar system efficiency.
 
eee..... isn't there is a thing called micro-inverter for solar panels already?
 
I am surprised to see Google focus in on this component since we are already in the mid to high 90's in efficiency and cost is very competitive.  Install cost & homeowner associations are much bigger impediments.  Now GOP states are attacking net metering, another big obstacle.
 
5.5kW system's inverter cost me $2000 to me Google would have been wiser to invest in a better Li-ion charger controller. 
 
That's what I also want to know. Is it open for people all over the world?!
 
merhaba türkiyeden bu yarışmaya bende katılmak isterim.saygılarımla.
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Have a non-standard solution. Waiting for details from Google.
 
Wondering if this is to support Google's own solar efforts.  Like Facebook making their own servers.   As people in the industry know, energy harvest is key, cost, gird control, reliability, are part of the design.  Given the billions in the industry and what companies pay for R&D is this to get a team for Google?  
 
97 % efficiency can be achieved but should be calculated when load is greater then 50% of rated capacity.
 
So, what are the technical requirements? Hopefully it won't be another blef like SunShot Initiative.
 
I have a new study for wind energy, does not affect the environmental landscape, not weather dependent, it works 24/24 ,so the voltage ( DC ) ,always stability ' as fin , not necessarily need to be complicated inverter
 
Has there been any progress or some announcements regarding applications?
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