Continuing with its investments in clean power Google has announced it is pumping $100 million into the construction of the world's largest wind farm. Spanning over 30 square miles in Arlington, Oregon, the Shepherds Flat wind farm is expected to cost $2 billion to build and should produce 845 megawatts of electricity, or enough to fuel more than 235,000 homes, when it is completed by developer Caithness Energy in 2012.
The move follows a $168 million investment in BrightSource Energy’s solar energy project and a planned 169.5 MW wind energy development by NextEra Energy Resources in North Dakota.
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm under construction
"This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations in a blog post. 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."
Google is a massive consumer of energy due to the huge datacenters needed to run its search and web services. The company's investments in renewable energy, which now stand at around $350 million, might help offload some of the costs in the future while using clean power. In the meantime, they are also an attractive deal for Google on the basis of financial returns, as it can sell energy on the wholesale markets in exchange for tradable Renewable Energy Certificates.