Google Is a Big Renewable Energy Investor

When someone thinks of Google they likely think first of their browser. However, Google should come to the mind of renewable energy enthusiasts. The reason is simple: Google invests in renewable energy, with a goal of powering its operations with 100 percent renewable energy.

The numbers are big: the company has over $1.5 billion worth of agreements to fund renewable energy projects, with a capacity of over 2.5 gigawatts (GW). The projects are expected to generate over six billion kilowatt hours (kWh) a year, enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes.

Google’s North Bayshore campus in Mountain View is one example. The company signed a long-term agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to buy local wind energy, enough to offset electricity use at its headquarters at the North Bayshore campus. Through the agreement with NextEra, a wind farm at Altamont Pass in California will have new, more efficient turbines that will add 43 megawatts (MW) of power to the grid in 2016. The energy generated by the wind turbines will feed into the grid that powers the buildings on the North Bayshore campus. 

Google has invested in other wind energy projects. The company has signed nine contracts for 1,146 MW of wind energy, enough electricity to power over 330,000 homes. One of those contracts is with the Dutch power company, Enenco to supply Google’s Eemshaven data center with wind energy. The 62 MW of wind energy will come from a neighboring wind farm, and will power the data center with 100 percent renewable energy. Google signed a ten-year power purchase agreement (PPA). 

Here’s a look at other wind energy project investments:

  • A $200 million investment in 2012 in a 161 MW wind farm in Oldham County, Texas, with a  capacity to generate energy to power about 60,000 homes. The wind farm’s output is contracted to SPS, a utility serving mainly Texas and New Mexico. 
  • A $75 million investment in a 50 MW wind farm in Rippey, Iowa, expected to power over 15,000 homes in the area. 
  • A 37.5 percent equity stake in the early stage development of hte Atlantic Wind Connection, a superhighway transmission for renewable energy off the Mid-Atlantic coast. When it is completed, it will run 250 miles from New Jersey to Virginia, and connect up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind power. That is enough electricity to power 1.9 homes.
  • A $100 million investment in Shepherd's Flat, an 845 MW wind farm in Arlington, Oregon. One of the largest wind farms in the world, it is expected to generate enough electricity to power 235,000 homes. The power generated from the wind farm will be sold to Southern California Edison, and supply power to California, a state requiring utilities to get 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

Google has also invested in solar energy. Several of the investments are in large scale solar facilities, including an 82 MW one in Kern County, California. Google invested $145 million into the project with SunEdison. Google also invested in solar facilities in California and Arizona, two states with plenty of sunshine. In 2013, the company invested $80 million in six utility-scale solar facilities in the two states that  have a combined capacity of 106 MW, enough electricity to power over 17,000 homes.

Photo: Keoki Seu