Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 10

Two Wind Farms get Investment from Google

Posted in Energy Industry | Ethanol Fuel | Wind Farms | Wind Power

Google Wind Farms Now big companies are going green and proudly proclaiming it too from rooftops. Google Inc. has invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms. This is the first direct investment by Google in utility-scale renewable energy generation. These two wind farms produce 169.5 megawatts of power. These two wind farms can light up around 55,000 homes. These wind farms are designed by General Electric Co and created by NextEra Energy Resources. They generate power from one of the world’s richest wind resources in the North Dakota plains. There is no need to lay down extra infrastructure for the two wind farms. Current transmission facilities are able to transmit power to the nearby areas. Google’s official blog claims, “Through this $38.8 million investment, we’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy — in a way that makes good business sense, too.”

Earlier Google Inc. has invested in companies which are developing new technologies in the area of solar, wind and geothermal power. Such companies are BrightSource Energy, eSolar and AltaRock. With North Dakota wind farms Google made an exception.

Google’s stakes in the wind farms are in the form of “tax equity” investments. This way Google will be able to avail the benefit of use federal tax credits provided by the Government. According to this incentive the investors also take over a project and use federal tax credits to offset their own taxes as a return.

According to NextEra they sold about $190 million of Class B membership interests in the two wind farms. Now Google’s stake is around 20% of the Class B shares. The companies are not talking about the other investors currently. While Google’s NextEra investment doesn’t include to help in future expansion of the company but they hope that their investment would help in establishing additional wind power projects.

The power production from the wind farms would be sold to utilities under power purchase agreements. A Google spokesman claimed that their data centers won’t be using the power generated by wind farms.

The wind farms are willing to experiment with new technologies. They want to go for the cutting edge turbine technologies and new kind of the control systems that can continuously monitor output from every turbine and always adjust individual blade angles to improve efficiency. They would also use the blades that are 15 per cent larger on the usual turbines.

Rick Needham is the green business operations manager at Google. He says, “Smart capital includes not only these early-stage company investments, but also dedicated funding for utility-scale projects. To tackle this need, we’ve been looking at investments in renewable energy projects, like the one we just signed, that can accelerate the deployment of the latest clean energy technology while providing attractive returns to Google and more capital for developers to build additional projects.”

Google has also indicated earlier this year that it may play a more direct role in the US energy market. Google Inc. has made a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that would help it to buy and sell electricity on the wholesale market. This has made green energy analysts curious about Google’s future role in clean and green energy scene.

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  • Tom

    I wonder what the cost per kilowatt is to produce this electricity — it really should become a commonly used fact in all articles so we can judge just how effective any form of “alternate” energy is… and to the critics sorry but cost DOES matter.

  • Tony

    Hey Tom, you’re right. Cost does matter. So let’s take into account the real costs of oil when we talk about how cheap it is. You know, the tanks, planes, bombs, bullets, soldiers, military infrastructure, oil platforms, ocean clean-up, transportation, storage, nation-building…..

    You know, if we really charged consumers for all the taxes we pay for oil and coal and gas, the green stuff would really look good!

    So let’s DO weigh the costs.

  • Jack Roesler

    The four, 1.7 megawatt wind turbines in Bowling Green, Ohio, produced 15 million kwhrs in 2008. They cost $8.8 million to purchase and install. Therefore, aside from maintenance costs, they paid for themselves in about 6 years. And Ohio is not the best state for wind power. Since then, as reported here in Alternative Energy, there are newly designed turbines that could be placed between those huge bladed varieties, and double the output of that field.

  • greenorbz

    These are the highlight of this news

    1.Google’s investment represents a minority interest in a $190 million round of financing for the projects.

    2.Google’s investment takes the form of a “tax equity investment” where it will earn a return based on the tax credits awarded by the government for renewable energy projects.

    I think Google’s primary aim is to earn a return from its investment but it also hopes to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.

  • Tom

    Tony I am no defender of oil and I can agree with some of your “human” costs that it involve–but again you mix emotion with efficiency — and we as a nation are rich in natural gas as well as clean burning coal — so best to bring that into the equation also… Those two energies alone can deliver 100’s of years of efficient power — then the nuclear equation must be re-evaluated — so many countries use it successfully and it is one of the “greenest” fuels of all — just being honest here.

  • DC Miller

    Please, clean burning coal! That’s an oximoron if I ever heard one. “Nuclear is Green.” Right. How about burying all of the nuclear waste in your back yard? Still think it’s green?


  • James

    @ Tom,

    Where is this clean burning coal?

    It sounds like your talking points come straight from big oil. There is no such thing as a ‘clean coal’ power station in existence.

    Sun, wind, geothermal and wave are the only truly clean energy sources. Also, these energy sources will outlast your ‘100’s of years’ by quite a margin.

    I also predict that the cost of the input fuel to a wind/solar farm will be exactly the same in 50 years, 100 years or even a millennium, as it is now. How efficient will your gas/coal power station be in 1,2,5 or 10 years? The price of natural gas has quadrupled in the last 10 years and the reserves are depleting. In most markets driven by supply and demand, under tight supply and high demand, prices go up dramatically.
    Catch phrases and talking points will never beat the FACTS.

    The fact is, using finite materials as a fuel source is not the future of the 21st century. Anyone who thinks it is, is the same sort of person that refused to believe that the Earth was in fact a sphere, even in light of solid science.

  • Tom

    D.C At least I am realistic about the future which does not involve using solar or wind as a feasible source of generating the power we need–Oxymoron or not some of our current resources are an absolute must–And don’t call me a supporter of big oil—I was driving a v-tec Honda Civic when it first came out (cost me more than 1500 extra for that engine) and gas was only a buck a gallon–Thus I never re-couped my investment—I did it for my support of the planet and have always believed that conservation is ultimately important—however my fellow Americans (as well as most of the developing world) will not follow my path–So we all must be REALISTIC about how to satisfy swelling demands for energy–look at these brats with all their texting and laptops—think those all run on wind power?? Guess again….

  • styke

    Sorry, Tom. You foolishly mentioned money in a religious discussion, so you must be stoned to death. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? 😉

    Like you, I would love to see a single number attached to every article: dollars per watt. The thing is, pretty much everything at this site is experimental. How would you measure the cost effectiveness of pokeberry solar cells, when no one has any idea how much they will cost to manufacture? The failures do us as much good as the successes, and none of it has to be cost effective. When Google invests, they have plenty of other income. This project can fail to make money, but if it is effective PR, it can still improve their bottom line.

  • Student


    You should really look in to this more! The truth is, WE ARE GOING TO RUN OUT OF OIL, ” CLEAN BURNING COAL”, etc. When is the last time you heard anything about running out of wind??? If you have heard something about running out of wind or sun, Please let us all know, I would be delighted to be informed of the end of the world being here!!!

  • Tom

    Thanks styke — at least someone here is able to use “reasoning” when discussing an important subject… Why is that so hard to find now-a-days?

  • Jack Roesler

    What is foolish about those $8.8 million wind turbines paying for themselves in about 6 years? A good solar panel installation can pay for itself in less than 20 years. What’s wrong with that? No greenhouse gases produced, no air pollution, no oil well blowouts, no nuclear waste, etc.

  • j


    My smartphone runs on the sun, wind & my energy. Google: HyMini
    My computer runs on the sun. Google: voltaic systems
    I bike everywhere.
    How’s that for realistic, sustainable, etc.?

    These products likely did not come about via sustainable means, probably powered by dams. Doesn’t matter. I’m on the path and not looking back.

    Sustainability is simple and reasonable. Coal is reasonable if it gets used less every year. Wars are sustainable too. How else can we cull the herd? 🙂

    Everyone is created unequal, there is no “we” the people. There is only “I”! So, what will “I” do?

    I know… do you?



  • Wendell Ellison

    It’s encouraging to see serious dollars being committed, rather than just rhetoric. There seems to be too much “demand vs infrastructure” paralysis. Several companies are interested in possibly investing in the systems and/or infrastructure, but fear the demand is not yet at sustainable (profitable) levels.

    Thank you Google. Maybe more companies will follow suit.

  • David Calderon

    I am looking for seed money to start a wind farm in San Diego, California. David 310 461 5130

  • nextera

    You’re definitely on the right track. Even if the resources used to create those items aren’t renewable, you’re lowering your future resource demand. As more and more people become aware of what they can do and worry less about what others are doing, the overall demand will begin to drop and eventually help us become less fuel dependent overall. That’s the goal.

  • Tom

    Stillrom-in-sky — thoughts from people I assume are college educated — we grow more fuel dependent by the day because we consume more every day — I know many green people? who forget the batteries in their laptops as well as in their hybrids do little to save energy much less make us independent — duh — ever stop to think the resources that are put into an electric car just to install the batteries — and ethanol. Wind and solar play no part now or in the near future.

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