Google Invest $80m into US Solar Project

Search Engine giants Google are once again expanding their portfolio of renewable energy projects with news of a $80m investment into six solar energy facilities in the United States.Set to be located in California and Arizona, the commercial-scale solar sites will be developed with Recurrent Energy, a Stateside developer of photovoltaic cells and facilities and backed further by investment firm KKR.  Expected to be operational early in 2014, the combined output of the six sites is expected to total 106 megawatts – which Google says is enough to provide 17,000 homes and businesses with electricity.

Google have ramped up their investment into commercial renewable energy over the last four years; since 2010, the digital firm – which now also boasts netbooks and smartphones as part of it’s catalogue of products – has spent over £1bn into solar and wind projects.

Speaking via the official Google Blog, Kojo Ako-Asare, Head of Corporate Finance said “This investment is similar to one we made back in 2011, when we teamed up with KKR and invested $94 million in four solar facilities developed by Recurrent. Those facilities have since started generating electricity, and we’ve committed hundreds of millions more—more than $1 billion in total—to renewable energy projects around the world.”

As a collective single investment, the six solar energy sites in the United States make up Google’s 14th foray into clean energy development. Currently running all it’s operations at 33% renewable energy at the moment, Google have long maintained the aim to run completely on renewable energy in the future.

“These investments are all part of our drive toward a clean energy future—where renewable energy is abundant, accessible and affordable. By continuing to invest in renewable energy projects, purchasing clean energy for our operations and working with our utility partners to create new options for ourselves and for other companies interest in buying renewable energy, we’re working hard to make that future a reality.” said Mr. Ako-Asare.

Google’s noble intent is likely to breed confidence in a solar sector that constantly seems to innovate and draw high-profile investors. However, the combined output of six sites producing 106 megawatts is likely to raise eyebrows in the sector.

Typically, a coal-fired power station can produce 600 to 700 megawatts, while a nuclear power plant puts out 900 to 1,300 megawatts – highlighting the level of investment of both money, resources and space required for large-scale solar projects.

With Google investing so heavily into the energy sector, are you pleased to see them backing solar projects? Or would their money be better spent on wind, tidal or another form of renewable commercial energy?