Google Chasing The Wind  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Google reports that they have made an investment in an 845 MW wind farm in Oregon, following their recent solar thermal power investment in Brightsource's Ivanpah project - Shepherding the wind.

We recently invested approximately $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, anticipated to be the largest wind farm in the world. Shepherds Flat is currently under construction near windy Arlington, Ore., and when completed in 2012 will produce 845 MW of energy. That’s a lot of wind—enough to power more than 235,000 homes.

This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology. This will be the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators—tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. Though the technology has been installed outside the U.S., it’s an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the U.S.

Shepherds Flat will help Oregon continue to be one of the top wind producing states in the nation, while providing significant direct economic benefits to the state. The project will also benefit the region by helping California meet its aggressive renewable energy goals with a cost-effective and clean wind resource. The electricity produced at Shepherds Flat will be sold under long term agreements to Southern California Edison. ...

This project brings our total invested in clean energy to more than $350 million, including our most recent investments in a German solar photovoltaic plant and in the BrightSource Ivanpah solar power tower—the largest solar energy project in the world. We’re excited about helping deliver clean energy to the grid and we hope this latest investment encourages other companies to think about ways they can help accelerate the deployment of more renewable energy. We remain on the lookout for more projects that make business sense and will help all of us take advantage of clean, renewable energy.

GigaOm notes that Google has also made a large purchase of wind power from a plant in Iowa - Google Invests $100M in (Another!) Wind Farm.
Google’s investments in clean power are now rivaling that of stand alone clean energy investors. Monday morning, the search engine giant said it has invested $100 million in the world’s largest wind farm, the 845 MW Shepherds Flat project under construction in Oregon. With this investment, Google has put more than $350 million (a jaw-dropping amount for an Internet company) into clean power.

The investment in the Shepherds Flat project follows on a $168 million investment announced last week into a solar thermal project being built by startup BrightSource Energy in California’s Mojave Desert, as well as a planned $38.8 million investment into 169.5 MW worth of wind projects developed by NextEra Energy Resources in North Dakota, and a €3.5 million ($5 million USD) investment in a solar photovoltaic farm in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, which is near Berlin. In addition to its investments, Google’s subsidiary Google Energy — which can buy and sell electricity on the wholesale markets — plans to buy 114 MW of wind power from an Iowa wind farm owned by NextEra Energy resources.

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic notes these investments are from Google's for-profit arm - What's Really Significant About Google's Big Green Tech Bets
Google's plowing $100 million into what will be the world's largest wind farm, Shepherds Flat, near Arlington, Oregon. It follows a $168 million investment in Brightsource's Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave and brings the Mountain View company's total investments in green tech projects to over $350 million.

There are two fascinating things about Google's recent moves. First, this is money for deployment. It's project finance, not R&D. Other big tech companies like LG and Samsung have announced massive investments in green tech research, but Google is putting money to get real projects off the ground. Second, this money comes from Google, Inc, not Google.org under the RE < C program. Google expects to make money on the big projects. …

With project finance hard to come by since 2008's financial collapse, Google's dollars are helping to get clean tech plants built. Kachan noted that the company had a vested interest in clean electricity, given that after personnel, power is the biggest cost on its balance sheet.

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