Blog Post

Google Makes First Direct Investment Into Clean Power Project

Google (s GOOG) has made its first direct investment into a wind power project, the search engine giant unveiled on Monday in a blog post. Google says it’s invested $38.8 million into 169.5 MW worth of wind projects developed by NextEra Energy Resources in North Dakota.

Google’s philathropic arm has previously invested in clean power startups, including solar thermal companies eSolar and BrightSource, geothermal company AltaRock, and high-altitude wind company Makani. Google also has a side project to develop solar thermal receivers.

But this investment comes directly out of the Google Inc. treasury. Google spokesperson Jamie Yood told us “You can think of it as a way to diversify our cash holdings while investing in an area that we think is important to support. This investment will help further deployment of wind power, one of the lowest cost sources of renewable energy.” When I asked Yood if Google planned to use the clean power for its data centers, he said “This is more of a financial investment; not aimed at powering our data centers.”

Google has been making some unusual and aggressive moves into the energy world as of late. In February the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Google’s application to buy and sell electricity on federally regulated wholesale markets. Google also has its energy management software tool PowerMeter.

Watch my onstage interview with Google’s lead on PowerMeter, Ed Lu, at our Green:Net event last week. And here’s Google Green Energy Czar, Bill Weihl, giving a presentation at Green:Net last week, too.

For more on energy management and green IT check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Smart Algorithms: The Future of the Energy Industry

Images courtesy of Google and Robert Scoble’s photostream.

14 Responses to “Google Makes First Direct Investment Into Clean Power Project”

  1. Google’s announcement is a very positive development for clean energy deployment, and one that other IT companies should emulate. We are particularly pleased to see the company move a step beyond renewable energy credits and toward direct investment in wind energy. But it’s important that Google remains attentive to its own carbon footprint as it builds new energy-voracious data centers in coal-reliant locations, such as North Carolina and Iowa, thus increasing the baseline demand for fossil fuels. Google’s investments in renewable energy should be applied to powering its data centers.

    Our new IT Leaderboard ranking (released at the Green:Net conference last week), which can be found at, scores Google in sixth place for climate leadership. Google does not disclose its carbon footprint or set a greenhouse gas reduction target for its operations. By comparison, Microsoft reveals its carbon emissions and gets 24% of its power from renewable sources. Google must increase transparency, set concrete emissions reduction targets, and build on its direct investments in clean energy if it hopes to strengthen its ability to be an effective advocate.