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Google Clean Energy Investments Top $350M, With Massive New Wind Farm

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In what is turning into a flurry of clean energy investment activity for Google, the search giant has announced a $100 million investment in what is anticipated to be the world’s largest wind farm.

The massive 845 MW project is already under construction in Oregon. That’s enough electricity to power more than 250,000 homes.

This latest investment brings Google’s total investments in clean energy to over $350 million, which rivals amounts invested by specialist clean energy investment funds. It’s certainly a staggering amount for an internet-based company.

Just last week Google announced that it had invested $168 million in a utility-scale solar thermal project by BrightSource Energy, slated to be the largest in the world. That project is being built in the Mojave Desert in California.

Google says the massive wind project attracted them not just because of its scale, but because of the advanced technology being used. The wind turbines will be the first in the U.S. to deploy (at a large scale) permanent magnet generators. This technology promises to improve efficiency, reliability and power grid connection capabilities. The technology also holds the potential to eventually bring down the cost of clean power, which is one of Google’s stated long-term goals.

The wind farm will be built using GE wind turbines. GE has been making its own massive new investments in clean energy lately. GE, also an investor in the project, has said the wind farm collaboration is part of its strategy of drawing private investment to the U.S. wind market.

GE and Google are partnering with the U.S. unit of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and a unit of Itochu Corp. Google, Itochu and Sumitomo will together own 56 percent of the $2 billion project. This will reduce GE’s stake to 34 percent.

The power produced by the wind farm will be sold under a long-term deal to Southern California Edison. Funnily enough, Google now also has a subsidiary called Google Energy, which can buy and sell electricity on the wholesale markets.

Google says it’s still on the lookout for even more clean energy projects to add to its rapidly growing portfolio.

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