Google invests $200M in Texas wind farm, backed a Hoover Dam worth of clean power

Google has now invested over $1 billion into about 2 GW — or the capacity of the Hoover Dam — worth of clean power projects. The latest investment, which the search giant announced on Wednesday, is a $200 million equity stake in a large wind farm in Texas.
The 161 MW wind farm, called the Spinning Spur Wind Project, has a capacity to power about 60,000 U.S homes, and is located in Oldham County, Texas. The project is being built by EDF Renewable Energy, uses turbines from Siemens, and utility SPS has contracted to buy the power.
Google has made 10 investments into clean power projects since 2010, including a wind farm in Iowa back in November (see photo below).
Google Iowa wind farm
Google has a few reasons why it wants to invest in clean power. First it wants to use more clean power for its data centers, and plans to have about a third of the power for its data centers come directly from clean power.
In addition, Google says the equity investments in clean power offer a good return for a company with a large balance sheet. Google says “we believe that corporations can be an important new source of capital for the renewable energy sector.” In the 11th hour on New Year’s day, the fiscal cliff deal passed and included very important wind tax credits that make wind power project investment economical in the U.S.
Oldham County, TX
Here’s a round up of Google’s clean power investments that I’ve published before and am republishing here:

  • Iowa wind farm: Google recently put $75 million into a wind farm called Rippey Wind Farm, located in Greene County. The power will be bought by Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO).
  • SolarCity rooftop solar fund. Google has created a $280 million fund with home solar installer SolarCity. This is Google’s largest investment in clean power to date, and its first in home rooftop solar.
  • Solar panel projects in Sacramento Calif: Google put $94 million into four solar panel projects, which are being built by Recurrent Energy close to Sacramento, Calif. This was Google’s first investment in utility-scale grid-connected solar panel projects.
  • Buying wind power from a utility directly to power a data center in Oklahoma: For the first time in September 2012, Google said it would buy clean energy from a utility to directly power one of its data centers in Oklahoma.
  • Clean Power Finance. Google invested $75 million into a solar fund for startup Clean Power Finance. Clean Power Finance will use the money to support solar rooftop projects by third party installers.
  • The world’s largest wind farm — in Oregon. Google is investing $100 million in the world’s largest wind farm, the 845 MW Shepherds Flat project under construction in Oregon.
  • North Dakota wind farm. Google is investing $38.8 million into 169.5 MW worth of wind projects developed by NextEra Energy Resources in North Dakota.
  • East Coast wind farm backbone. Google has invested part of the fund for an East Coast transmission line that is meant to link offshore wind farms, and which recently got an approved rate of return for the project at 12.59 percent.
  • Wind power from Iowa wind farm. Google’s first deal for its subsidiary Google Energy — which can buy and sell power on the wholesale electricity markets — plans to buy wind power from 114 MW of wind energy via a wind farm in Iowa owned by NextEra Energy Resources.
  • Wind power from Oklahoma wind farm. Google’s second deal via its subsidiary Google Energy is to buy 100 MW of power from a wind farm that’s under construction in Oklahoma by NextEra Energy Resources.
  • BrightSource’s solar thermal project. Google invested $168 million into a solar thermal project being built by startup BrightSource Energy in California’s Mojave Desert.
  • German solar project. Google is investing €3.5 million ($5 million USD) into a solar photovoltaic farm in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, which is near Berlin.
  • Greentech startups (these are small investments). Google (through a combo of Google Ventures and has invested in at least nine “greentech” startups, including battery maker ActaCell, electric vehicle maker Aptera, efficient car maker Next Autoworks, geothermal company Alta Rock, neighbor-to-neighbor car sharing company RelayRides, weather insurance company WeatherBill, smart grid company Silver Spring Networks, biofuel maker Cool Planet Biofuels, and efficient power gear conversion tech startup Transphorm.

Google 2G Winfographic