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.

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Images courtesy of Google and Robert Scoble’s photostream.