This one has particular resonance for me, because it is literally on my turf. Actually make that my surf. Google has just agreed to be part of what is called the Atlantic Wind Connection backbone, a wind turbine project that will stretch about 350 miles from Virginia to New Jersey, connecting about 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines. That capacity is roughly 60 percent of the wind energy technology installed across the entire country last year. Pause and think about that for a moment.
The idea behind the project, which is being led by transmission development company Trans-Elect, is to connect offshore power hubs that will be fed into the backbone and delivered to land-based transmission systems. Google describes it as a "superhighway for clean energy." The technology giant will invest 37.5 percent of the equity in the initial development phase of the project. The company doesn't disclose the amount, but I have seen the project as a whole described as a $5 billion joint venture. The other investors are Good Energies and Marubeni.
The project is significant for another reason: Even though there are a handful of wind projects proposed in the United States, none have actually been started. In the blog post about the project, Google says that wind is a particularly viable option in the mid-Atlantic region. Turbines can be installed about 10 miles to 15 miles offshore, where they are out of sight and out of earshot. The company estimates that potential capacity in this area to be 60,000 megawatts. The backbone will help enable wind developers because otherwise they would have to build their own individual transmission lines.
Here's more from the Google blog, which is credited to Google's Green Business Operations Director Rick Needham:
"We believe in investing in projects that make good business sense and further the developments of renewable energy. We're willing to take calculated risks on early stage ideas and projects that can have dramatic impacts while offering attractive returns. This willingness to be ahead of the industry and invest in largescale innovative projects is our success as a company."
I sure don't see many other software companies thinking this way.