Google makes major wind farm investment

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google - one of the largest consumers of power in the world - is to invest for the first time in renewable energy with the purchase of a stake in two North Dakota wind farms.

The wind farms, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, generate 169.5MW via 113 turbines. The company's made a $38.8 million investment in exchange for around 20 percent of NextEra's Class B shares. The investment has been made through the company's philanthropic arm.

"We’re excited about this first project investment because it uses some of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems to provide one of the lowest-cost sources of renewable energy to the local grid," says Rick Needham, Google's green business operations manager.

"The turbines can continuously adjust the individual blade pitch angles to achieve optimal efficiency and use larger blades with 15 percent more swept area than earlier generations, allowing capture of even more wind energy for each turbine."

The control systems for these wind farms are also advanced and dynamic, he says, allowing remote 24/7 monitoring and operation.

Earlier this year, Google asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow it to buy and sell electricity on the wholesale market.

"We’ve been looking at investments in renewable energy projects, like the one we just signed, that can accelerate the deployment of the latest clean energy technology while providing attractive returns to Google and more capital for developers to build additional projects," says Needham.