As if being an Internet giant is not enough, Google, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine company, is on to renewable power.
In the span of little more than a decade, Google has transformed itself from garage start-up to an international corporation. Recognizing the natural affinities between its Internet products and services and sustainable-energy practices, the company has launched an effort to invest in various forms of green power.
In April, Google announced it would invest about $100 million in the Shepherd’s Flat wind project in Oregon. The facility is projected to be the largest wind farm in the world with the capacity to generate 845 megawatts (MW) when it comes online in 2012. The massive facility will cover about 30 square miles and provide enough electricity to light up 235,000 U.S. homes.
Shepherd’s Flat is also unique because it will be the first large-scale wind farm to use direct-drive turbines, a more efficient technology that employs permanent magnets, instead of the traditional gear box construction, to generate electricity.
The announcement of the Shepherd’s Flat investment comes on the heels of two other projects Google announced in April, both of which are also groundbreaking in their own right.
In Oklahoma, Google entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources’ Minco II wind facility. The company will apply the power to its Mayes County, Okla., data center. Google will purchase all of the power generated from the 100.8-MW facility, which will be built as a direct result of the financing provided by the purchase agreement. The wind facility and the data center will be operational later this year.
Google has also invested $168 million in an innovative new solar power plant being developed in California’s Mojave Desert. BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will be capable of generating 392 MW of power using power towers. This unique technology consists of a field of mirrors, or heliostats, that concentrate the sun’s rays onto the top of a tower where receivers generate steam to drive a turbine.
Google boasts $350 million of investments in clean-energy projects. The company has pledged to ultimately reduce its carbon footprint to zero.