Greentech Media has a look at Google's renewable energy investment history - A Timeline of Google’s Clean Energy Investment.
2011: Google announces an end to RE less than C, citing cost drops in solar PV
After four years of experimentation in CSP and EGS, Google finally decided to end its ambitious RE less than C initiative. Some in the press wrongly reported that Google had "abandoned" renewable energy. Instead, the company cited the steady cost drops in photovoltaics, saying that it would rather focus on project financing rather than R&D.
Shortly after announcing the end to RE less than C, Google dropped more than $350 million into funds for solar service companies Clean Power Finance and SolarCity. And in the subsequent years, it has scaled its project financing from $580 million to more than $1 billion.
Spring 2010 to present: Google expands its investment bonanza
Since arming itself with the ability to act like a utility and phasing out its R&D efforts, Google has supported fourteen projects worth more than 2 gigawatts of capacity.
GTM's Herman Trabish assembled a list of some of the top plays Google made in one year alone:
- $75 million in a fund operated by Clean Power Finance (CPF) that will finance 3,000 rooftop solar home installations
- $280 million in a fund operated by SolarCity that will extend that company’s lease program to some 8,000 new system owners
- $168 million in BrightSource Energy’s Mojave Desert utility-scale CSP solar power tower facility that will supply 392 megawatts of electricity to California power suppliers SCE and PG&E (following an initial $10 million investment in the company itself)
- 37.5 percent early equity stake in the Atlantic Wind Connection, a transmission backbone that will ultimately cost approximately $5 billion and deliver 7,000 megawatts of offshore wind-generated electricity from a 2,000-megawatt-capacity, high-voltage, direct-current, 250-mile transmission path between southern Virginia and northern New Jersey
- $157 million in 270 megawatts of wind being built at the Alta Wind Center in Southern California’s Tehachapi Mountains
- $100 million in the 845-megawatt Shepherd’s Flat project in Oregon, the biggest on-land wind farm in the world
- $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms with a total capacity of 169.5 megawatts, the first production tax credit deal done after the 2008 economic crash
- €3.5 million (~$5 million) for 49 percent of an 18.65-megawatt PV solar installation in Brandenburg, Germany
This list will likely get quite a bit longer in the coming years. As Kojo Ako-Asare, head of corporate finance for Google, wrote on the company's blog yesterday, the tech giant has every intention of becoming a renewable energy giant.
"You’d think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope -- we’re still as into it as ever," wrote Ako-Asare.