Going solar with SunPower

4/23/14 | 5:30:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partner to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.

A home sporting SunPower solar panels

SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.

An Earth Day treat: lots of renewable energy for our Iowa data center

4/22/14 | 6:00:00 AM

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We’ve been talking to MidAmerican Energy, our energy supplier in Iowa, about renewable energy since we started building our Iowa data center in 2007. Just in time for Earth Day, we now have a freshly inked agreement with MidAmerican Energy to supply our Iowa data center facilities with up to 407 MW of 100% renewable wind energy, as tracked by renewable energy certificates. This agreement will not only cover our current facilities but will allow for future expansion supplied by renewable energy as well.

This is our seventh and largest renewable energy commitment to date, bringing the total amount of renewable energy we’ve contracted for to over one gigawatt (1,000 megawatts).

We’ve entered into a few different kinds of agreements over the years - sometimes signing power purchase agreements (PPAs) with wind farm developers and sometimes working with our local utility partners. This agreement is similar to our 2012 agreement with our Oklahoma utility, the Grand River Dam Authority. In this case, MidAmerican Energy will sell energy to our Iowa data center bundled with and tracked by renewable energy certificates generated by projects that are part of its Wind VIII program.

PPAs and agreements like this one are a big part of the commitment to carbon neutrality we made back in 2007, and we’re working to make this whole process easier for other companies by advocating for renewable energy tariffs. Depending on the circumstances, any of these approaches can make sense, and we’re always on the hunt for new and creative ways to power our operations with renewable energy. But it’s not just our own operations we want to green: Google has also invested over $1B in 15 renewable energy investments around the world in an effort to put more renewable energy on the grid and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ll continue working with MidAmerican Energy and all of our utility partners to find diverse ways to deliver clean, renewable energy to our data centers. Happy Earth Day!

Posted by Neha Palmer and Sam Arons, Wind Ninjas

More Swedish wind power for our Finnish data centre

1/22/14 | 2:00:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Google Europe Blog)

We’re keen to make sure that our data centres around the world use as much renewable energy as possible. By entering into long-term agreements with wind farm developers over the past few years, we’ve been able to increase the amount of renewable energy we consume while helping enable the construction of new facilities.

Today we announced that we’ve signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) in Sweden (our second such agreement there in less than 12 months). We will buy the entire electricity output of four as-yet-unbuilt wind farms in southern Sweden, at a fixed price, for the next ten years.

Windfarm developer Eolus Vind will build four wind farms, in Alered, Mungseröd, Skalleberg and Ramsnäs, Sweden. The 29-turbine project, with a total combined capacity of 59MW, already has all relevant planning approvals and permits and will become fully operational in early 2015.



Once completed, the wind farms will provide Google’s Hamina, Finland, data centre with additional renewable energy as the facility expands in coming years.

Buying renewable energy in Sweden and consuming it in Finland is possible thanks to Europe’s increasingly integrated power markets, in particular the Nord Pool spot market. This allows Google to buy renewable energy with Guarantee of Origin certification in Sweden, “retire” the certificates and then consume an equivalent amount of power elsewhere in Europe.



This marks our sixth long-term agreement to purchase renewable energy. We keep signing these contracts for two main reasons: they make great financial sense for us, and increase the amount of renewable energy available in the grid, which is great for the environment too.

A new wind investment in Texas

1/14/14 | 10:03:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there. In late December we finalized an agreement to invest $75 million in the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, outside of Amarillo. The 182MW facility, developed by leading wind developer Pattern Energy Group LP, has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power 56,000 U.S. homes. We expect the facility to be operational by the end of 2014.

The future sight of Pattern's Panhandle 2 wind farm
Panhandle 2 is our 15th renewable energy investment overall, and our second in Texas—last year around this time we announced an approximately $200 million investment in the Spinning Spur wind farm. In addition to these two projects, we’re also buying Texas wind from the Happy Hereford wind farm as part of our goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy. These efforts reflect our long-standing commitment to renewable energy as both an investor and a consumer.

Sunset at another Pattern facility, Gulf Wind

Let that Texas wind blow!

An update on our efforts to expand options for companies to buy renewable energy

11/15/13 | 2:15:00 PM

Back in April, as part of an announcement that we were expanding our Lenoir, N.C. data center, our electricity provider Duke Energy committed to developing a new program to enable companies to buy renewable energy directly from the utility. At the time we also published a white paper explaining why we think this is important.

Since then, we and others have been providing input on the development of a pilot program, which will officially be called the Green Source Rider. We’re pleased to report that Duke just filed their proposal for the Rider with the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission (NCUC) for approval. While the Rider still needs to be vetted by stakeholders and approved by the NCUC, we applaud Duke for developing a new option for customers to green their power supplies in North Carolina.

Our long-term goal is to power our data centers with 100% renewable energy, and we look forward to working with Duke and others to find cost-effective renewable energy options that can be offered under the Green Source Rider. It’s our hope that this effort will encourage additional development of clean energy in North Carolina and elsewhere for growing companies like Google.

Solar in California and Arizona: More of a good thing

11/14/13 | 6:00:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

You’d think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope—we’re still as into it as ever, which is why we’re so pleased to announce our 14th investment: We’re partnering with global investment firm KKR to invest in six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona. Developed by leading solar developer Recurrent Energy, the projects have a combined capacity of 106MW and will generate enough electricity to power over 17,000 U.S. homes. Google will make an approximately $80 million investment into these facilities.

The 17.5 MWac/22 MWp Victor Phelan project (pictured), located in San Bernardino, Calif., is part of six Recurrent Energy developed projects acquired by Google and KKR. The six-project portfolio is expected to operational by early 2014 and will generate enough clean electricity to power more than 17,000 U.S. homes.

This investment is similar to one we made back in 2011, when we teamed up with KKR and invested $94 million in four solar facilities developed by Recurrent. Those facilities have since started generating electricity, and we’ve committed hundreds of millions more—more than $1 billion in total—to renewable energy projects around the world.

These investments are all part of our drive toward a clean energy future—where renewable energy is abundant, accessible and affordable. By continuing to invest in renewable energy projects, purchasing clean energy for our operations and working with our utility partners to create new options for ourselves and for other companies interest in buying renewable energy, we’re working hard to make that future a reality.

A solar investment in California’s Imperial Valley

10/10/13 | 9:00:00 AM

We’re celebrating Halloween early with our “lucky thirteenth” renewable energy investment: a $103 million commitment to Mount Signal Solar, a 265.7 MW solar photovoltaic plant in Imperial County, CA. The project will generate enough energy to power 80,000 homes.

Like many states, California has a goal of increasing the amount of energy procured from renewable sources. The energy from Mount Signal Solar, which has been contracted to San Diego Gas & Electric, will help California meet this goal. The project, which is owned and operated by Silver Ridge Power (formerly AES Solar), will also create over 900 construction jobs in a part of the state that suffers from high unemployment.

Thirteen renewable energy investments in three years! That’s a lot of energy—the over $1 billion we’ve committed to these projects will generate enough electricity each year to power more than 500,000 U.S. homes. Why are we making these investments? It’s simple: we believe in a clean energy future, and we think that companies like ours can help make it happen. We invest in these projects because they make business sense, because they help put more renewable energy on the grid, and because they have a positive impact on the local economies where they operate.

The Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial County, CA