Google pumps $75 million into Clean Power Finance to help install solar panels into 3,000 homes around the United States. Google uses solar panels at the Googleplex.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Sept. 27 plunked down $75 million to
provide solar panels on residential roofs for up to 3,000 homeowners, marking
the company's second investment in solar energy for homes.
Google will seed partner Clean Power Finance with money
to contract with third-party installers, such as American Vision Solar,
SunLogic and California Solar Systems, to put solar panels into homes.
Solar installers contract with Clean Power Finance to
access consumer financing from investors, such as Google. The installer builds
the system, which is owned by the investor (Google, for this instance).
Homeowners then make monthly payments for the system, often for less than that
of traditional, electric-powered energy. Clean Power Finance will bill
consumers and maintain the solar panels.
As a company that employs dozens of data centers and
hundreds of thousands of server computers to fuel Web searches and cloud-based
applications all over the world, Google is particularly sensitive to its energy
consumption and carbon footprint.
The search engine provider has been on quite the clean
power investment spree in 2011, dropping hundreds of millions of dollars this
year alone to boost its total green energy spend to more than $850 million. For the
second time this year, Google is turning its attention to solar-powered panels
to heat and provide power to homes.
Though far from science fiction, solar-powered panels have
lagged in adoption, partly from the hefty upfront cost they incur for homeowners.
Moreover, homeowners who want to use solar panels can't always find financing
for them. Google, which uses a 1.6 MW rooftop solar installation at its
Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, invested $280 million in solar installer
SolarCity to help facilitate solar-powered homes.
"As we said when we made our first residential solar
investment, we think it makes a lot of sense to use solar photovoltaic (PV)
technology-rooftop solar panels-to generate electricity right where you need it
at home," said Rick Needham, director of green business operations.
"It greens our
energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission
constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the
This isn't the first time Google has pumped money into
Clean Power Finance. The company's Google Ventures arm was among the investors
in a $25 million funding round for the startup that was led by Kleiner Perkins
Caufield & Byers.