Helping homeowners harness the sun

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

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

Imagine sitting on your patio watching the sun’s rays pass overhead, knowing that they power your home with clean energy—at a cost that’s less that what you would have paid using just the grid. That’s what my colleague, engineer Michael Flaster, has been doing at his home in Menlo Park, Calif. since March of this year. He did it with the help of a company called SolarCity, which enables homeowners and businesses to begin using solar energy to power their homes and buildings.

Today, we’re announcing that we’ve investing $280 million to create a fund that will help SolarCity finance more solar installations across the country. This is our largest clean energy project investment to date and brings our total invested in the clean energy sector to more than $680 million. We’ve also launched a partnership to offer SolarCity services to Googlers at a discount.



In SolarCity’s innovative financing model, the company covers installation and maintenance of the system over the life of the lease. You can prepay, or pay nothing upfront after which you make monthly solar lease payments. All told, Michael will save $100 per month on his energy bills this year, and more than $16,000 over his 15 year lease, after factoring in his lease payment and lower energy bills.




We believe the world needs a wide range of clean energy options in the future, each serving different needs. We’ve already invested in several large-scale renewable energy projects, so we’re excited that this new partnership with SolarCity helps people power their homes directly with solar energy, too. We think “distributed” renewable energy (generated and used right at home) is a smart way to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to improve our power system since it helps avoid or alleviate distribution constraints on the traditional electricity grid.

Our investment is a quadruple-win for Google, SolarCity, its new customers and the environment. We continue to look for other renewable energy investments that make business sense and help develop and deploy cleaner sources of energy. Whether harnessing the sun on rooftops like Michael’s or in the desert sands of the Mojave, it’s all part of building a clean energy future.