Google's long-time interest in clean energy technology took an interesting turn today as the company announced an investment in an underwater grid project off the east coast of the United States. The New York Times pegged the investment at up to $200 million.
While onshore wind farms have carpeted the midwest, offshore wind farms have had a difficult time getting permitted and built in this country. The attraction of offshore wind is that the winds (generally speaking) blow stronger and steadier. The floating turbines can also be much larger than their terrestrial cousins. The Department of Energy would like 10 gigawatts of offshore wind power to be installed along our coasts by the year 2020.
Beyond the risk inherent in deploying a new major energy technology, the big offshore farms have faced protests from locals worried about their beach home views and marine birds.
Google's total project -- which is being developed by transmission builder Trans-Elect -- would run 350 miles from New Jersey to Virginia. It would supposedly allow turbines connected to it to be sited farther offshore, away from NIMBY complaints.
"This will serve as a clean-energy superhighway, with on-ramps for wind farms and the ability to be intelligently expanded," Rick Needham, Google's green business operations director, told a news conference, reported Reuters. "We can help kick-start an industry that can provide thousands of jobs."