Google to invest in six more large solar panel farms in the Southwest

Google’s over a billion dollar commitment to clean energy projects — a Hoover’s Dam worth of renewable energy — keeps growing. On Thursday Google announced that it will invest $80 million into six solar panel farms in California and Arizona.

The solar panel farms have been under developed by project developer Recurrent Energy, which was bought by Sharp a few years ago, and has been rumored to be soon sold off by Sharp (though Sharp denied that rumor this Summer). The solar panel farms have a combined capacity of 106 MW, which can generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes, and five of the projects are in Southern California, while one is in Arizona.

Google teamed up with investment group KKR to purchase the plants –which will be operational next year — outright for a total cost of $400 million. Back in late 2011 Google made a similar deal with KKR and Recurrent Energy for some solar panel farms in Sacramento.

This latest clean power move by Google shows not only the search engine giant’s long standing commitment to put large sums of money into clean power infrastructure, but also the variety of options that Internet companies have to help green the grid. Google makes these types of investments partly because they can make money off of them, and partly because these projects can be areas that could feed electricity to Google data centers. Google can also get renewable energy credits from investments like these.