Google Ruffles the Breeze with US$55million Wind Farm Project

Web giant Google is straying further from simple word search in its pursuit of the famous “don’t be evil” company motto. This year’s good deed is investing big bucks in a Californian wind farm.

Kern County, California. 25 May 2011. Most people think of Google as a search engine company. But it has extended its reach into eco-friendly transport, efficient journey planning, satellite mapping and more in its strategic commitment to the sustainable future of our planet.

Rick Needham, Google’s Green Business Operations Director says renewable makes business senseIts latest venture is in the area of renewable energy, with an announcement that it is to contribute some US$55million to help fund a new wind farm at Alta Wind Energy Center in Kern County, California. The first four phases of the farm will generate an estimated 570 megawatts of capacity, and will use turbines manufactured by Vestas.

“We believe in investing in projects that make good business sense and further the development of renewable energy,” says Rick Needham, Google’s Green Business Operations Director. He says that as with the wind farm, Google is willing to take calculated risks on early stage ideas and projects that can have dramatic impacts.

This latest energy investment from Google will help underwrite construction at the Terra-Gen Power Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) wind farm in the hills of Kern County. One reason Google is giving wind power a look could be completely selfish. Its massive search server farms, each housing tens of thousands of computer stations, suck up colossal amounts of power. But the company is looking at other ways to keep the wheels turning outside local power for its own operations too.

The new windfarm at Kern County has been under-written in part by Google financingIt is investing substantial sums into transmission systems, smart grids, solar thermal energy and offshore energy farms. Google also boasts one of the largest solar arrays in the region surrounding its Bay Area headquarters.

The Terra-Gen project will cost US$1.2 billion in total, and be built in five different phases; total capacity is planned to be around 1,550 MW as part of the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone.

“When built out, the AWC backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines,” says Needham. “That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.” Google obviously don’t believe in doing things in a small way.

Images courtesy of Google