Google bets on wind farm, continues clean tech investing streak

Google has been dropping big bucks on clean tech as it aims to procure alternative energy as well as invest in the sector. The latest investment is the Shepherds Flat wind farm in Oregon.

Google has been dropping big bucks on clean tech as it aims to procure alternative energy as well as invest in the sector.

On Monday, Google joined ITOCHU and Sumitomo in a $500 million investment on the Shepherds Flat wind farm. Shepherds Flat will be the largest wind farm in the world and produce 845 megawatts of power. GE and developer Caithness Energy were already owners of the wind farm.

Additional terms of the Shepherds Flat investment weren't disclosed, but it appears that Google plunked down $100 million. Last week, Google said it had $250 million invested in clean tech to date. The Shepherds Flat release said Google has invested $350 million in clean tech. In a blog post, Google said the investment highlights advanced wind technology:

This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology. This will be the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators—tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. Though the technology has been installed outside the U.S., it’s an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the U.S.

Couple Google's wind farm investment with last week's deal to invest $168 million in a BrightSource Energy solar project and you have a $350 million tab.

The Shepherds Flat project will provide energy to Southern California Edison.

What does Google get out of these deals? For starters, Google's data centers consume a lot of energy and the search engine's appetite for power is insatiable. The only way for Google to hit its own sustainability goals will be to go clean tech. And if Google could become self-sufficient via alternative energy it would be a nice boost to profit margins.

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