Google, the company best known for its search engine, is investing $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon. Located on over 30 square miles, the wind farm is expected to take $2 billion to build and will be completed next year. The energy produced by the wind farm will be sold to Southern California Edison and will help California meet its 33 percent renewable energy standard. Constructing the wind farm will create 800 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs in Oregon’s Gilliam and Morrow counties. Both counties will benefit from $100 million in taxes and fees from the wind farm over 15 years.
The wind farm will provide 845 megawatts (MW) of energy, enough to power 235,000 homes, using only 338 wind turbines manufactured by GE. In comparison, the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas provides 781.5 MW with 627 turbines. The difference is that the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm uses “advanced technology,” as a Google blog post stated. The advanced technology the turbines use is a “permanent magnet generators—tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities.” Google calls the technology “an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the U.S.”
Google has invested over $350 million in clean energy, including $38.8 last year in two North Dakota wind farms which have produce a combined 169.5 MW of energy, enough to power 55,000 homes. This year, Google invested $168 million in Brightsource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. When completed, it will be one of the largest solar tower power plants in the world. It will produce 392 MW of energy, the equivalent of removing over 90,000 cars off the road.
“We hope that investing in Ivanpah spurs continued development and deployment of this promising technology while encouraging other companies to make similar investments in renewable energy,” according to a Google blog post.
Google recently announced its $5 million investment in a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Germany, the company’s first investment in clean energy outside of the U.S. The power plant is on 116 acres in Brandenburg an der Havel, near Berlin, and will have a peak capacity of 18.65 MW. It will be one of the largest solar PV plants in Germany.
Google stated that one of the reasons for its clean energy investment is to “to encourage development and deployment of renewable energy across the world.” Another reason stated is to encourage “other companies to think about ways they can help accelerate the deployment of more renewable energy.”