We’ve made a new $ 94 million investment in a portfolio of four solar photovoltaic (PV) projects being built by Recurrent Energy near Sacramento, California. This brings our portfolio of clean energy investments to more than $ 915 million. We’ve already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops. But this investment represents our first investment in the U.S. in larger scale solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid—instead of on individual rooftops. These projects have a total capacity of 88 MW, equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.

We’re investing alongside global investment firm KKR and Recurrent Energy, a leading solar developer. Google will provide a $ 94 million equity investment and SunTap Energy, a new venture formed today by KKR to invest in solar projects in the U.S., will provide the remaining equity.

We’re joining KKR on their first renewable energy investment in the U.S. We believe investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future.

Solar panels at one of the Recurrent projects

The energy produced by these projects is already contracted for 20 years with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). SMUD recently created a feed-in tariff program (FIT) to help green the grid for Sacramento-area residents. We’re excited that these projects are the first to be built under the program.

We’ve had a busy year at Google. Since January, we’ve invested more than $ 880 million in clean energy projects. 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.


The Official Google Blog

Taking in more sun with Clean Power Finance

(Cross-posted from the Green Blog)

This morning, at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF-West) in San Francisco, I announced a new $ 75 million investment to create an initial fund with Clean Power Finance that will help up to 3,000 homeowners go solar. This is our second investment in residential solar, and we’ve now invested more than $ 850 million overall to develop and deploy clean energy.

As we said when we made our first residential solar investment, we think it makes a lot of sense to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology—rooftop solar panels—to generate electricity right where you need it at home. It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid.

Purchasing a solar system is a major home improvement, but the upfront cost has historically been one of the biggest barriers for homeowners. Solar installers across the country don’t always have the resources to find financing for customers, or the capital to provide it themselves. And for investors like Google, banks and others, it can be difficult to enter a fragmented solar market with many companies, and get connected to individual homeowners.

That’s where Clean Power Finance comes in. They’ve developed an open platform that connects installers with investors like Google to provide financing to homeowners. Solar installers sign up with Clean Power Finance to get access to the company’s comprehensive sales solutions, including consumer financing from investors, like the Google fund. This enables installers to sell more systems and grow their business. The installer builds the system, the investor (in this case, Google) owns it, and homeowners pay a monthly payment for the system, at a price that’s often less than paying for energy from the grid. Maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers.

Owned by Google, operated by Clean Power Finance and installed by American Vision Solar, the Colin family of Santa Clarita, Calif. has a 4.14 kW solar system

This innovative and scalable model makes business sense for Google, Clean Power Finance, solar installers and homeowners too. We’re excited to be one of the first investors to partner with Clean Power Finance and enable the company to continue forging strong relationships with solar installers (like the ones they announced last week with SunLogic, California Solar Systems, American Vision Solar—learn more on Clean Power Finance’s website). By making financing more readily available, the Clean Power Finance platform has the potential to lower costs and accelerate adoption of solar energy.

We’ve already installed a 1.6MW rooftop solar installation at the Googleplex back in 2007. Now, through Clean Power Finance and our previous investment this year, we’re hoping to have an even larger impact. We look forward to watching our funding help more than 10,000 homeowners generate clean electricity from the sun.


The Official Google Blog

At Google, we’re committed to using technology to solve one of the greatest challenges we face as a country: building a clean energy future. That’s why we’ve worked hard to be carbon neutral as a company, launched our renewable energy cheaper than coal initiative and have invested in several clean energy companies and projects around the world.

But what if we knew the value of innovation in clean energy technologies? How much could new technologies contribute to our economic growth, enhance our energy security or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? Robust data can help us understand these important questions, and the role innovation in clean energy could play in addressing our future economic, security and climate challenges.

Through Google.org, our energy team set out to answer some of these questions. Using McKinsey’s Low Carbon Economics Tool (LCET), we assessed the long-term economic impacts for the U.S. assuming breakthroughs were made in several different clean energy technologies, like wind, geothermal and electric vehicles. McKinsey’s LCET is a neutral, analytic set of interlinked models that estimates the potential economic and technology implications of various policy and technology assumptions.

The analysis is based on a model and includes assumptions and conclusions that Google.org developed, so it isn’t a prediction of the future. We’ve decided to make the analysis and associated data available everywhere because we believe it could provide a new perspective on the economic value of public and private investment in energy innovation. Here are just some of the most compelling findings:

  • Energy innovation pays off big: We compared “business as usual” (BAU) to scenarios with breakthroughs in clean energy technologies. On top of those, we layered a series of possible clean energy policies (more details in the report). We found that by 2030, when compared to BAU, breakthroughs could help the U.S.:
    • Grow GDP by over $ 155 billion/year ($ 244 billion in our Clean Policy scenario)
    • Create over 1.1 million new full-time jobs/year (1.9 million with Clean Policy)
    • Reduce household energy costs by over $ 942/year ($ 995 with Clean Policy)
    • Reduce U.S. oil consumption by over 1.1 billion barrels/year
    • Reduce U.S. total carbon emissions by 13% in 2030 (21% with Clean Policy)
  • Speed matters and delay is costly: Our model found a mere five year delay (2010-2015) in accelerating technology innovation led to $ 2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP, an aggregate 1.2-1.4 million net unrealized jobs and 8-28 more gigatons of potential GHG emissions by 2050.
  • Policy and innovation can enhance each other: Combining clean energy policies with technological breakthroughs increased the economic, security and pollution benefits for either innovation or policy alone. Take GHG emissions: the model showed that combining policy and innovation led to 59% GHG reductions by 2050 (vs. 2005 levels), while maintaining economic growth.

This analysis assumed that breakthroughs in clean energy happened and that policies were put in place, and then tried to understand the impact. The data here allows us to imagine a world in which the U.S. captures the potential benefits of some clean energy technologies: economic growth, job generation and a reduction in harmful emissions. We haven’t developed the roadmap, and getting there will take the right mix of policies, sustained investment in technological innovation by public and private institutions and mobilization of the private sector’s entrepreneurial energies. We hope this analysis encourages further discussion and debate on these important issues.


The Official Google Blog

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