Google invests in Californian solar energy projects

Posted by Kate Taylor

Google's continuing to pump money into clean energy, investing $94 million in four solar photovoltaic facilities near Sacramento.

The plants are being built by Recurrent Energy, and will serve the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

"The investment is a clear demonstration of solar's ability to attract private capital from well-established investors like Google and KKR," says Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. "This transaction provides an example of the direction solar is headed as a viable, mainstream part of our energy economy."

The four facilities will deliver 88 MW of power, and were the first to be awarded as part of  to SMUD's feed-in tariff program (FIT), introduced in January 2010.

Construction on three of the projects will be completed early next year, with the fourth coming online later in the year. They're expected to generate nearly 160,000,000 kWh in their first year of operation - powering the equivalent of more than 13,000 average US homes.

Google's investment in these projects brings its total invested to more than $915 million in renewable energy projects. The company has invested in a wide range of technologies, from transmission to the world's largest wind and solar power tower projects. This represents Google's first investment in the U.S. in utility scale solar PV.

"Since January, we’ve invested more than $880 million in clean energy projects," says Axel Martinez, assistant treasurer at Google.

"We believe the world needs a wide range of solutions — from wind, to transmission, to solar PV and concentrated solar — and we look forward to new opportunities next year to further expand our portfolio of clean energy investments."

Earlier this year, Google was recognized by the EPA as one of the top purchasers of renewable energy. In April, it gave its backing to an enormous wind farm in Oregon.