Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Dec. 20 invested $94 million more on solar energy, bringing its clean energy investments to a grand total of more than $915 million through 2011.
The search engine giant, which consumes a lot of power by using dozens of data centers and hundreds of thousands of server computers to fuel Web searches and applications, invested in four solar photovoltaic (PV) projects being built by solar developer Recurrent Energy near Sacramento, Calif.
Google's $94 million will be allocated by global investment firm KKR, which has created a new venture called SunTap Energy to pump money into U.S. solar projects. KKR is funding the difference.
Google said energy produced by these projects is already contracted for 20 years with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which created a tariff program to help "green the grid" for Sacramento-area residents.
The move means Google has committed to funding solar powered-panels for more than 10,000 homeowners this year.
Google invested $75 million to provide solar panels on residential roofs for up to 3,000 homeowners in September. That funding followed a $280 million investment to outfit homes and offices with solar panels that harness heat from the sun to power buildings.
However, while those funds went toward financing solar panels for home and business rooftops, this new round constitutes Google's first U.S. investment in solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid.
These projects have a total capacity of 88 megawatts, or roughly the amount of electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.
Google's clean energy spend has certainly accelerated in 2011, with $880 million-plus of the company's total investments coming since January of this year alone.
"We believe the world needs a wide range of solutions-from wind, to transmission, to solar PV and concentrated solar-and we look forward to new opportunities next year to further expand our portfolio of clean energy investments," said Axel Martinez, the assistant treasurer for Google Treasury, in a blog post.
GigaOm has a short and sweet summary of Google's total clean energy spend.