Google and SunPower partner up on funding home solar roofs

Google can’t stop investing in clean power. Earlier this week it announced that it inked its largest clean power contract to date to buy energy from a wind farm in Iowa. And now on Wednesday Google has announced that it’s teamed up with solar panel maker and project developer SunPower to provide funding for installing solar panels on home rooftops.

Google will put in $100 million, and SunPower will contribute $150 million. The combined $250 million will provide financing for leases for thousands of solar panel systems for home and building owners. SunPower launched its solar lease program in 2011 and said 20,000 homes have opted for the leases.

Photo by Katie Fehrenbacher/Gigaom
Photo by Katie Fehrenbacher/Gigaom

This isn’t the first time that Google has invested in solar financing for home owners. It also put $280 million into a solar rooftop fund run by SolarCity, and another $75 million into Clean Power Finance’s home solar roof fund.

Google has been investing in clean power in a variety of ways, including putting financing into these types of funds, buying equity in individual clean power projects, and contracting to buy clean power from utilities and power companies to run its data centers (both directly and indirectly). Putting money into a rooftop solar fund can provide returns to Google over time, so Google is actually making money on these deals.

Rooftop solar panel systems in the U.S. are booming. Almost a third of new electricity in the U.S. last year came from solar, and solar was the second largest source of new electricity last year after natural gas. In 2013 there was 4.75 gigawatts of solar energy systems installed, including 2 gigawatts in just the fourth quarter alone.