New Solar Investment Brings Google’s Clean Energy Portfolio to Nearly $1B

Recurrent EnergyGoogle is investing $94 million in solar farms built by Recurrent Energy in the Sacramento, California region. This brings Google’s total clean energy investments to over $925 million, with over $880 million in 2011 alone.

The Recurrent Energy – SMUD Solar Farms

The solar farms being built house large-scale solar PV power plants, which Google’s announcement of the investment describes as being able to “generate energy for the grid—instead of on individual rooftop” Google elaborates that “These projects have a total capacity of 88 MW, equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.” It is the first U.S. investment from Google on panels of this sort.

Google is investing alongside investment firm KKR for this project, with KKR providing $95 million in funding. Recurrent Energy is also providing a portion of the capital for the project.

While the technology is pushing the boundaries, the project isn’t exactly “high risk” for Google; the solar farms have already won a 20-year contract with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). According to Google’s statements on the matter, the SMUD contract is part of an effort from the municipal authority “to help green the grid for Sacramento-area residents.”

Of course, that’s no guarantee that the project will go off without a hitch. Reuters reports that Google is facing scrutiny from the U.S. Government over an off-shore power line that’s set to transport 7,000 megawatts of clean electricity from wind farms located off the coast.

Google has been investing heavily in clean energy this year. As noted, this $94 million bring’s Google’s total green energy investments to approximately $925 million, with $880 million having happened since January of 2011. Other projects have included backing for homeowner solar panels, $100 million to Oregon wind farms, and a $280 million investment in SolarCity. Google is also famed for having some of the m green data centers worldwide; they even host summits on how to make more efficient data centers.

What do you think of Google’s green investments? Is the company doing enough, or are they falling short? What sort of green energy should Google and other major technology companies invest in next? Shout out your thoughts in the comments.

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