Google Ploughs £70m Into World’s Largest Wind Farm

Google continues to plough money into the renewable energy market, this time with a hefty investment in the world’s biggest wind farm.

The news was revealed in a blog posting by Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations. He announced that Google is investing $100m (£70m) in the Shepherds Flat project in Oregon.

“We recently invested approximately $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, anticipated to be the largest wind farm in the world,” wrote Needham. “Shepherds Flat is currently under construction near windy Arlington, Oregon, and when completed in 2012 will produce 845 MW of energy. That’s a lot of wind – enough to power more than 235,000 homes.”

Clean Energy Drive

“This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology. This will be the first commercial wind farm in the US to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators – tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. Though the technology has been installed outside the US, it’s an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the US.”

This investment means that Google has invested more than $350m (£245m) so far in renewable energy.

This quest for clean energy comes as Google is a massive consumer of energy to power the thousands of servers residing within its data centres that drive its search and web services.

Only last week Google announced that it has invested a staggering $168 million (£103m) in a solar energy plant in the United States. That funding remains Google’s largest investment in clean energy to date. That funding was for the solar energy power plant that BrightSource Energy that is currently building in California’s Mojave Desert. Just days earlier Google had also revealed that it was making an investment in a solar power plant in Germany.

Other Wind Investments

Google has previously invested heavily in wind as well. Last October it provided funding for the Atlantic Wind Connection backbone, which is meant to power offshore windmills by connecting undersea cables along the Atlantic coastline.

Prior to that last May it pumped $38.8 million (£23.8m) into two NextEra wind farms in North Dakota.

It also agreed to buy 114 megawatts of clean energy from one of those wind farms at a predetermined rate for 20 years last July.

Google gained the right to buy and sell power on regulated wholesale markets from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2010.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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