Google And Friends Invest £250 Million In Solar Projects

Google and venture fund KKR have invested $400 million (£250m) into six solar power plants in California and Arizona.

The facilities are expected to be completed in January and produce  a total of 106MW. Google and KKR are buying them outright from Recurrent Energy, a division of Sharp Corporation.  Google’s part of the deal is apparently worth $80 million (£50m), according to the company’s blog where the deal was announced.

Here comes the sun

The deal appears to signal better times in the solar power industry. Sharp, a maker of solar panels, bought Recurrent, a solar project manager,  for $305 million in 2010 to have a stake in their installation, but the project had a bumpy ride.

By 2012, Sharp was reportedly tiring of this side of the business. Recurrent had installed 500MW of power, and had an estimated pipeline of 2.5GigaWatts in progress (twice what Back to the Future’s Doc Brown needed to travel through time), and Sharp wanted $321 million for the whole business, according to reports which originated from the Kyodo News Agency.

Fast forward to 2013, and Recurrent has made  progress: it has installed 700MW worth of equipment. Its pipeline is down to 2GW, according to the site, but “pipeline” is probably a fairly elastic concept.

This time, however, Sharp wants to keep the overall company, and is selling some projects (one of them pictured below) which are nearing completion for a price that is higher than media estimates for the whole company in 2012. the deal is similar to the one in 2011, when Google and KKR bought four Recurrent plants near Sacramento for $94 million.

Google is a big solar backer, having plowed more than $1 billion into the industry. Unlike tech players like Apple, which is a big user of solar energy in its data centres, Google’s is investing in projects that deliver solar power to homes and businesses.

“These investments are all part of our drive toward a clean energy future—where renewable energy is abundant, accessible and affordable,” said Kojo Ako-Asare, Google’s head of corporate finance. “By continuing to invest in renewable energy projects, purchasing clean energy for our operations and working with our utility partners to create new options for ourselves and for other companies interest in buying renewable energy, we’re working hard to make that future a reality.”

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Peter Judge

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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