Google pours $200 million into Texas wind farm

Steven Loeb · January 9, 2013 · Short URL:

Google's 11 investments in renewable energy now add up to 2 gigawatts of power

Remember then the term "going green" meant something? That was before channels like NBC just decided to slap a green logo on for a week and declare it "green week" or whatever (I think the 30 Rock episode with David Schwimmer as Greenzo was the final nail in that coffin, at least for me), and now the terms has simply become synonymous with talking the talk without walking the walk. A nice thing to say, but ultimately hollow and meaningless.

I will admit, though, that some compines really do put their money where their mouth is, and one of those is Google, which announced Wednesday that, for the 11th time since 2010, it has donated money toward renewable energy.

This time it is a $200 million equity investment in Spinning Spur Wind Project, a 161 megawatt facility, located in west Texas. It was built by renewable energy developer EDF Renewable Energy, which has overseen over 50 other clean energy projects.

Spinning Spur has 70 Siemens turbines, each with 2.3 megawatts, enough to power more than 60,000 average U.S. homes. The turbines began spinning full time just before the end of the year, and the energy they create has been contracted to SPS, a utility that primarily serves Texas and New Mexico.

"We look for projects like Spinning Spur because, in addition to creating more renewable energy and strengthening the local economy, they also make for smart investments: they offer attractive returns relative to the risks and allow us to invest in a broad range of assets," Kojo Ako-Asare, Senior Manager, Corporate Finance at Google, wrote. "We’re also proud to be the first investor in an EDF Renewable Energy project that is not a financial institution, as we believe that corporations can be an important new source of capital for the renewable energy sector."

“EDF Renewable Energy is pleased to engage with an innovative company like Google on this equity financing,” said Jim Peters, Vice President of Project Finance in a statement. “The partnership between our companies reflects a departure from sourcing investment capital from traditional financial institutions for our renewable energy projects. This transaction provides an opportunity for a leading renewable energy developer to join forces with a leading technology company to create value for both our companies and our respective customers.”

Google's other renewable energy projects

As I said above, Google has invested in green energy projects 10 other times, including solar power company Brightsource, in which Google initially originally invested $10 million in 2008 and then another $168 million; Rippey Wind Farm, which Google invested $75 million; and Clean Power Finance, in which Google also poured in $75 million.

Four of Google's investments has significant milestones in the past year:

  • The Atlantic Wind Connection received permission to begin permitting, an important step in advancing the construction of the United States’ first offshore backbone electric transmission system (more in this new video).
  • Shepherds Flat, one of the world’s largest wind farms with a capacity of 845 MW, became fully operational in October.
  • The Ivanpah project, which is more than 75 percent complete and employs 2,000+ people, recently installed its 100,000th heliostat, a kind of mirror (more in this new video).
  • Just yesterday (PDF), the fourth and final phase of Recurrent Energy's 88MW solar installation in Sacramento County, Calif., reached commercial operation.

According to an infographic, the projects that Google has invested can generate up to 2 gigawatts of power. That can power 500,000 homes, 70 million television shows, 190,000 car trips around the world, the Sydney Opera House for 312 years, and all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon and Wyoming combined for a full year.

Here is the full infographic:

(Image source:

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