Google Splashes More Cash On Home Solar Power

Google has announced a new $75 million investment to help more home owners install residential solar energy systems.

The company has teamed up with Clean Power Finance to create the initial fund that will assist around 3,000 households in reaping the benefits of solar panels.

Under the arrangement, Google will own the systems and homeowners will pay a monthly payment, often less than the price of paying for electricity from the mains grid. Maintenance will be performed by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers.

Clean Power Finance is an online marketplace for solar industry professionals and investors that provides access to consumer financing in the form of leasing, power purchase agreements, prepay and loans.

Rick Needham, Director of Google’s Green Business Operations, says a home solar panel system “makes a lot of sense” as aside from reducing a household’s electricity bills, it makes better use of rooftop space, helps bolster the presence of green electricity in America’s energy mix and avoids transmission constraints. A significant portion of electricity generated by central power stations is lost in transit; usually as heat.

This is Google’s second investment in residential solar; the first being the creation of a USD$280 million fund earlier this year.

“We look forward to watching our funding help more than 10,000 homeowners generate clean electricity from the sun,” said Mr Needham.

Google has now invested more than $850 million overall to develop and deploy clean energy. Other projects include supporting development of Bloom Box fuel cell technology, a 49% stake in a solar farm in Germany, investment in two North Dakota wind farms. a transmission backbone off the mid-Atlantic and a purchase agreement with a 114 megawatt wind farm in Iowa.

While sometimes criticised for its own carbon footprint, estimated to be around 1.46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, Google says it is carbon neutral when the renewable energy and offsets it purchases, along with its own on-site electricity generation, are taken into consideration.