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Published on April 12th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Google’s Largest Cleantech Investment Yet (In California!)

April 12th, 2011 by  

invapah solar power project california

I announced yesterday that Google’s investing $5 million into a solar power project in Germany. That’s big, and it’s Google’s first cleantech investment outside the United States. But before we get too pessimistic and down about our dysfunctional political situation and how it’s limiting our cleantech growth, let’s remember that while a Tea-Party-ruined Congress can’t get much done, a number of states are supporting cleantech quite a bit on their own. One such state, as we all know, is California.

Now, it was announced yesterday that Google is investing $168 million into a giant, utility-scale solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert in California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. (This is considerably more than its $38.7 million investment in two large wind farms in North Dakota last year.)

ivanpah solar thermal power project california

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has also received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the federal government, funding from NRG Solar, and funding from solar energy start-up BrightSource Energy, the company developing this project.

It will include three concentrating solar thermal plants, will have a net power capacity of 370 MW (which means that it is expected to generate enough electricity for ~85,000 homes according to the DOE or ~140,000 homes based on BrightSource Energy’s utility power purchase agreement), and will double the amount of solar thermal-generated electricity worldwide.

“We hope that investing in Ivanpah spurs continued development and deployment of this promising technology while encouraging other companies to make similar investments in renewable energy,” said Rick Needham, director of green business operations at Google.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has been under construction since the fall, will be completed in phases, and is expected to be fully operational in 2013.

California utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison will buy the power from this plant, which will go a long way in helping them meet their new requirement to get 33% of electricity from renewable energy by 2020.

With this news just following GE’s announcement that it is pumping $600 million into a solar manufacturing facility in the U.S. that is expected to produce 400 MW worth of solar panels a year, one can’t help but feel a little happy and optimistic.

Related Stories (not already linked above):

Images via BrightSource Energy/Ivanpah Solar 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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