Google’s made all kinds of headlines with its investments in clean energy recently: $280 million for a California residential solar company, $55 million for a wind project in Kern County, more than $10 million for geothermal R&D projects, and $168 million for a massive solar farm in the California desert, just to name a few.
A new move by the company seeks to address another kind of energy challenge: airplane fuel. The company has teamed up with NASA to sponsor the Green Flight Challenge, a competition to develop emissions-free aircraft.
The challenge? Build a plane that can fly at least 100 miles per hour and achieve the equivalent energy efficiency of 200 miles per gallon of fuel on a 200-mile flight.
Thirteen teams will be competing for $1.65 million in prizes, funded by NASA, including a $1.3 million grand prize. The competition will be held between September 25 and October 2 at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, and is being organized by the CAFE Foundation, a non-profit devoted to aviation technology.
From the CAFE Foundation press release:
The electric aircraft in the competition will demonstrate for the first time that practical, emission-free cross-country flight is possible. Their batteries will be recharged using clean geo-thermal based electricity from The Geysers geo-thermal fields in the Mayacama Mountains North of Santa Rosa. This recharging will occur at the CAFE Flight Test Center’s first-ever Electric Aircraft Charging Station sponsored by Google.
The public will have a chance to check out all of the competing aircraft at Moffett Field–NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View on October 3, 2011.