Google Inc. announced on Monday it will invest $168 million in a massive solar power project in California.
Google has made several investments in the clean energy sector, but this is, by far, the search giant’s largest investment.
Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google stated: “We’re excited to be making our largest clean energy investment to date. With this investment, we’re helping deploy the first commercial plant of a potentially transformative solar technology able to deliver clean energy at scale.”
$168 million will be invested into one of the first utility-scale solar projects by startup BrightSource Energy.
BrightSource builds and uses solar thermal technology, which uses concentrating lenses to tap into the sun’s heat.
BrightSource Energy’s solar project, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, is being built in California’s Mojave Desert.
Ivanpah Electric Generating System plans to generate a whopping 392 megawatts of power — enough to take 90,000 cars off the road over 25 years or light 140,000 homes.
The project plans to be up and running in 2013.
Construction began on the project last October after BrightSource finally received approval by the California Energy Commission.
BrightSource needed to raise over $1 billion to finish Ivanpah.
In October, NRG invested $300 million in the project.
On April 12th, BrightSource announced it is closing its financing for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
The announcement came after the project finalized its $1.6 billion in loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office and the addition of Google’s $168 million equity investment.
So you are probably wondering why Google is investing in such a large clean energy project.
It’s one part money, and two parts energy.
Partially, Google is investing in Ivanpah for the financial returns. The search engine powerhouse believes it will stand to make a considerable profit from the project.
But what really attracted Google to Ivanpah was energy.
Google is a major consumer of electricity.
The company has huge data centers that require massive amounts of energy.
Google’s data centers already largely have their own power sources, but those data center power contracts expire.
Google is looking to eventually run its data centers off of clean power.
Google’s Green Energy Czar, Bill Weihl, made it clear that Google Inc. is ultimately about being able to procure clean energy to power the search engine giant’s data centers.
Until next time,