I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: Google Green
Google is embracing social innovation through solar power as it has invested alongside global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR's) and Recurrent Energy, a leading solar developer to buy four photovoltaic power plants in California. This is Google's first investment in photovoltaic power plants, which uses on the ground thousands of solar panels like those found on residential rooftops. Google has stated that rooftop solar is appealing because it allows carbon-free electricity to be generated where it is consumed, avoiding the need for expensive and environmentally disruptive transmission projections.
The search giant has previously invested hundreds of millions of dollars in social innovation and renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar thermal power plants. This June, Google created a $280 million fund to finance home solar arrays installed by Silicon Valley startup, SolarCity. This was Google's first collaboration with the nation's leading solar power and energy efficiency service provider. It is the largest residential solar fund created in the U.S.
Axel Martinez, Google's assistant treasurer says, "We're excited to be supporting KKR's entrance into the renewable energy sector in the U.S. We hope the sector continues to attract new sources of capital." To date, Google has invested more than $915 million in renewable energy projects.
The four solar power plants purchased by KKR's new solar investment subsidiary, SunTap Energy, and Google will generate 88 megawatts of electricity at peak output for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and this social innovation project is set to go live in 2012. Google is hoping that by providing more capital into this social innovation business market and by being one of first corporates to do so, others will follow. Raj Agrawal, head of KKR's North American Infrastructure team, says, "Recurrent Energy is a leading solar developer and Google embodies innovation."
Google has shown its strong commitment to a clean energy future by running its buildings as efficiently as possible, piloting new clean energy technologies and committing to long-term power purchase agreements that actually will green the energy grid. It has also furthered its green promise by investing in innovative, large-scale, clean energy projects it believes can become major power sources for the future. In fact, many projects it has invested in are already generating substantial clean energy and a healthy financial return. Plus, to speed up social innovation and development it has put significant funding and resources behind new technologies through Google.org, Google Ventures and Google corporate investments. It has invested in early-stage companies such as Makani Power and Potter Drilling, working to bring innovative new technologies to market in wind and geothermal energy, respectively.
Photo Credit: Ozaking