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Google Invests $280 Million In Solar Energy Project

By Kieran Ball - 16 Jun 2011 11:2:0 GMT
Google Invests $280 Million In Solar Energy Project

Google has renewed its commitment to renewable energy projects by pledging $280 million to a firm financing residential solar power in the US.

Google's investment is its largest yet in clean energy and will be used to help homeowners finance the start up costs of installing a solar energy system. The project is one of 15 operated by SolarCity, one of the US leaders in solar power.

"This is our largest clean energy project to date and brings our total invested in the clean energy sector to more than $680 million," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google. "We've also launched a partnership to offer SolarCity services to Google users at a discount."

The money will be used to offer leasing agreements to customers whereby the customer pays nothing upfront for the installation of the equipment and instead makes a monthly lease payment for the equipment. SolarCity now has partnerships with seven different investors financing some $1.28 billion in solar projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. In almost 75% of all cases, the customer has chosen SolarCity's lease agreement over a prepay option.

Benjamin Cook, vice-president of project finance at SolarCity, says that American consumers are starting to understand the benefits to be gained from clean energy choices:

"This collaboration with Google will enable us to provide solar power to thousands of homeowners at or below the cost they currently pay for their electricity."

Although Google expects a return on its investment from the leasing agreements, the initiative is another demonstration that big corporations like Google can make a real difference in influencing the take up of clean energies.

The announcement comes as the US Energy Department announced that it was offering conditional loan guarantees of nearly $2 billion for the Mojave Solar Project and the Genesis Solar Project. These two projects alone have the capability to double solar energy production in the US and reduce CO2 emissions by 670,000 tonnes every year. It all points to 2011 being a pivotal year in the uptake of solar power as a viable renewable energy source.

Top Image Credit: © Sergiy Serdyuk