Google is ending 2011 with a green bang.
The technology giant made an investment that brought its total renewable energy investments to more than $915 million. Google announced this morning that it is injecting $94 million into four solar photovoltaic projects established near Sacramento, Calif. The portfolio projects are being built by solar development company Recurrent Energy.
“We’ve already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops,” announced Recurrent Energy in a statement. The development company also released energy details through its press-release concerning expected electricity generation:
The four solar PV facilities included in the transaction will provide 88 MW of power to SMUD and were the first to be awarded as part of the utility’s feed-in tariff program (FIT) introduced in January 2010…The projects are expected to generate nearly 160,000,000 kWh in their first year of operation, which is roughly equivalent to offsetting the electricity consumption of more than 13,000 average U.S. homes.
The facilities serve the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Construction on three of the area projects will finish in early 2012, with the fourth completing later in the year. Global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., through a new venture called SunTap Energy, is co-investing in the projects alongside Google.
“The investment is a clear demonstration of solar’s ability to attract private capital from well- established investors like Google and KKR,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, in the blog post. “This transaction provides an example of the direction solar is headed as a viable, mainstream part of our energy economy.”
Google has a stellar record in going green. It has nearly $1 billion in renewable energy projects in geothermal, wind and solar. The company also set up a research project that focuses on making renewable energy more cost effective than coal, although, the project was shelved recently.
Google started Google Energy to trade energy on the wholesale market. The sub-company buys renewable energy from renewable producers, and then sells the excesses energy for Renewable Energy Certificates, according to GreenMonk blog.
According to Google Green’s website, the technology company relies on energy to “power data centers that deliver more than a billion search results each day, mobile phone platforms like Android, Google Apps used by more than 40,000,000 active users, and beneficial tools like Google Maps and Google Earth—not to mention workplaces for more than 28,000 Googlers around the world.”
Thus, Google Green added, the company believes in putting “substantial resources” toward the future of renewable energy sources:
We also place big bets—and take calculated risks—on promising new technologies in order to accelerate the development and widespread deployment of renewable energy.
Google’s Green Energy wizard Bill Weihl led the company’s green efforts. However, according to Fresh Dialogues, he left Google in November to begin working at Facebook in January 2012. Weihl’s innovative mind in clean energy may encourage Facebook to walk down the same green path as Google. Therefore, the world may see more energy announcements from both technology giants in the coming year.