Google Keeps Its Renewable Energy Investments Going

By Alexis C. Madrigal

While Washington's support for green things rises and falls every twelve months or so, some corporations have had less up-and-down interest in renewable energy. Google, which closed a $200 million investment in the 161-megawatt Spinning Spur Wind Project near Amarillo, Texas in late December, has now enabled more than two gigawatts of low-carbon energy to come online. The company believes that the financing for these big projects could and should come from corporations. 

"We look for projects like Spinning Spur because, in addition to creating more renewable energy and strengthening the local economy, they also make for smart investments: they offer attractive returns relative to the risks and allow us to invest in a broad range of assets," the company wrote in a blog post. "We're also proud to be the first investor in an EDF Renewable Energy project that is not a financial institution, as we believe that corporations can be an important new source of capital for the renewable energy sector."

Google created the infographic below to give you some context for how much capacity two gigawatts really is. I'll add a couple more numbers: until 1999, the U.S. had less than 2 gigawatts of wind and solar total. That's the good number. The bad number is that American generating capacity stands at roughly 1,054 gigawatts, so two GW is a rounding error at the national level. (The boring lesson? Transforming an energy system is hard, and it takes a lot of money, time, and effort.)

Google2GWinfographic.png


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/01/google-keeps-its-renewable-energy-investments-going/267003/