Remember last week when Google announced that it is investing $168 million in the world’s largest solar project? That was just the beginning. This week, everyone’s favorite search engine/clean energy company announced that it has invested $100 million in the Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm, an 845 MW farm in Oregon that will be the world’s largest when it is completed.
This is an innovative wind farm, no doubt exciting to the forward-thinkers in Mountainview. It will be the first in the U.S. to use turbines outfitted with permanent magnet
generators–“tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will
improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities,” according to Google’s blog. Google’s investments haven’t turned it into one of the biggest cleantech players yet (Khosla Ventures, for example, has secured over $1 billion for its cleantech and IT funds). But if it keeps investing at its current rate, Google could quickly become a cleantech investment giant.
Try as it might to convince us all otherwise, Google is not a philanthropic organization. Nor is it–we don’t think–trying to hold all of our electricity hostage. That must mean there are serious business motives behind these investments, which both came from Google, Inc–not Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm.
For now, Google stands to make lots of cash from wind and solar power purchase agreements (read: when energy companies buy all this renewable power). And remember: Google has an energy subsidiary that will, if all goes as
planned, help the company reach carbon neutrality. These giant
investments in wind and solar projects are probably meant to help offset the massive amounts of energy Google imagines that it will need as it grows and has to power more data centers (and other secret projects). But hey, at least the company’s energy-sucking tendencies won’t wreak too much environmental havoc (notwithstanding desert turtles that get in the way of solar plants and bats that ram into wind turbines).