Mark down yet another clean power project Google plans to back. Tuesday morning, Google announced on its blog it’s providing $55 million for part of the construction of a 1.5 GW wind farm that is being built by Terra-Gen Power in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. Google’s financing will go toward a 102 MW section of the Alta Wind Energy Center, and Citibank has underwritten the equity for a major chunk of the rest.
Google says it’s not buying the electricity directly from the project, and the returns are reason enough for the investment. Google and Citibank are using what they call a leveraged lease, and are purchasing part of the project, then leasing it back to Terra-Gen, who will manage and operate the project.
With this investment, Google has now invested over $400 million in clean power projects, an area outside of its core competency. But as I’ve written before (GigaOM Pro subscription required), giving Google more control over the energy it needs for its data centers could be a smart investment in the long run. Here’s a run down of what Google has backed in the clean power space:
- World’s Largest Oregon Wind Farm. 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 megawatts 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 plans to invest $168 million into a solar thermal project being built by startup BrightSource Energy in California’s Mojave Desert.
- Solar German 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 Google.org) 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.