Is Google looking to revive the ailing planet with investments in clean energy

Renewable resources and non renewable resources are at two ends of a tug-of-war battle. While the latter is presently being used to an exhaustive extent, the former is still trying to find a prominent place in the list of energy sources. Conventional sources like coal have been used for a number of decades to power industries and homes. Its abundance and cheap cost is what propelled many to turn to it in the first place. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries saw huge amounts of coal being used to drive countries like Britain to the forefront of progress. Earlier, this natural resource was used in small quantities and coal could be mined from close to the surface of the earth. However, as demands increased, there was a need to drill ever deeper.

California Solar Projects

Now, coal has dwindled to virtually nothing. This has led to a very steep rise in the cost of this once abundant resource. This in turn has led to expensive power generation. So, what is the solution? Coal takes millions of years to form and we can’t wait that long. An alternative is natural gas but it is also increasing in price as sources are dwindling. The Energy Information Agency estimated that in the year 2005 the world had about 60 years worth of natural gas left. It’s 2012 now and even if new technology finds a way to tap gas reserves to harness more, it could take years to come to fruition.

The needs of renewable energy sector

There is a need to find a viable replacement for petroleum-based energy sources and fast. If we don’t, we may see ourselves in a deadlock and the worst case scenario will witness technology coming to a standstill. Fortunately, there is a way out but it requires dedicated effort and large scale investment by governments and third parties the world over. At present, the US is proposing to help Turkey with its renewable energy efforts as the latter is expected to see an increase of five to seven percent in energy demands. Turkey is hoping that by the year 2023, it can produce 30 percent of power from renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro. Countries like India that have large populations are also looking into renewable energy.

Currently, renewable energy contributes to about 16 percent of the global final energy consumption. This number is slowly growing as concerns about climate change are prompting various sectors to utilize green energy. Automobile manufacturers like Ford and GM are turning to renewable energy to conduct operations. In fact, it is learned that the year 2010 saw a 32 percent increase in global investment in the renewable energy sector compared to the year 2009.

Google’s take on clean energy

Web companies like Google are also investing in renewable energy with handsome profits. According to the search engine giant, Google has invested over $915 million in this sector. The company has also taken it upon itself to make use of green and sustainable energy. Some of their corporate campuses utilize photovoltaic systems for solar energy and cogeneration units that make use of landfill gas to generate electricity. Google has also completed two PPAs with a commitment to purchase renewable energy from certain sources.

Building a green future

1. The project: Large scale solar PV in California

The investment: $94 million

Google has invested $94 million in Recurrent Energy, a Sacramento-based company, for solar projects. The investment will cover four solar projects that is hoped will significantly benefit California’s energy needs. In fact, the project has found its first renewable energy client – the Sacramento Municipal Utility District which has signed a deal to purchase solar power for the next 20 years. The large scale undertaking will see 88MW of power being produced, enough to sustain 13,000 homes.

2. The project: Clean Power Finance – providing financing for rooftop solar panels

Clean Power Finance

Clean Power Finance

The investment: $75 million

Startup company, Clean Power Finance, is being financed by Google to help third party installers place solar panels on rooftops as part of solar rooftop projects. The investment of $75 million will see about 10,000 homes being benefited by solar power.

3. The project: SolarCity – solar for thousands of residential rooftops



The investment: $280 million

In one of the biggest investments by Google, $280 million has gone into funding SolarCity for its residential solar market. It is expected that the funds will help install as many as 9000 solar rooftop projects. Since solar leases and installations can be quite expensive, it is hoped that Google’s investment will help customers avail of more affordable solar panels.

4. The project: Atlantic Wind Connection – a superhighway for clean energy transmission

Atlantic Wind Connection

Atlantic Wind Connection

The investment: A 37.5 percent equity stake

Google’s 37.5 equity stake in the Atlantic Wind Connection project by Trans-Elect Development Company will hope to service offshore wind farms by a network of underground cables measuring a total of 350 miles from New Jersey to Virginia. The wind turbines that will be connected will be able to generate a substantial 6000MW of power to large population centers in the Mid-Atlantic region.

5. The project: Shepherd’s Flat – the world’s largest wind farm

Shepherds Flat Wind Farm

Shepherds Flat Wind Farm

The investment: $100 million

Shepherd’s Flat, billed to be the world’s largest wind farm with the proposed capacity to produce 845MW, has received backing from Google to install the latest turbine technology and magnet generators. The investment of $100 million will go a long way in meeting California’s growing energy demands. Southern California Edison will purchase the power produced for distribution under a long term agreement.

A glimpse of the green future

With big companies like Google paving the way for investments in green energy, there is hope that our ailing planet might just be saved. However, it cannot be left to a handful to bear the burden so there is a need for governments around the world to put in money and research for alternative energy. Such investments will see economies getting a boost as renewable energy is far cheaper compared to the rising costs of conventional resources like coal and natural gas. This in turn will open up avenues for much needed employment.

Enter Your Mail Address


Related Posts: