Google in $168m California solar deal

The internet technology giant is investing in a 390-megawatt solar energy project in California that is being developed by CalSTRS-backed BrightSource Energy. The deal comes on the heels of a €3.5m solar investment in Germany.

Google has agreed to invest $168 million in the massive Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, California, which is being built by US developer BrightSource Energy.

When it is fully completed, Ivanpah stands to be the largest solar project in the world, generating 392 megawatts of power, according BrightSource’s website. BrightSource said it counts the $141 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, Chevron, Morgan Stanley and Alstom among its backers.

Ivanpah: Powering Google

The investment is part of Google’s “going green” initiative, a set of steps the Mountain View, California-based company is taking to “build a more sustainable future”, according to its official blog. Aside from direct investments in clean energy projects, other steps include purchasing clean energy for its operations and developing green products and tools.

The Ivanpah deal comes on the heels of a €3.5 million investment Google made in an 18.5-megawatt solar energy plant in Brandenburg, Germany, marking the company’s first foray into European clean energy. Google said the plant, which is located near Berlin, is currently operational and produces enough energy to power 5,000 homes.

Hamburg-based private equity firm Capital Stage, which focuses on clean energy and renewable investments in Europe, is selling 49 percent of the recently-acquired project to Google.

Google said on its official blog that it has invested over $250 million in clean energy to date, and is looking to create “utility-scale renewable electricity” that is less expensive than coal.

Google’s previous clean energy commitments include a $38 million investment in two North Dakota wind farms and an investment in Atlantic Wind Connection, a US wind energy transmission line.