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Google invests in more solar

22nd Dec 2011

Google has increased its clean energy portfolio to almost $1 billion after announcing its involvement with four solar panel projects in the US.

The search giant - in partnership with investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) - has invested $94 million in its first large scale solar project.

"This investment represents our first investment in the U.S. in larger scale solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid - instead of on individual rooftops,"  assistant treasurer at the Google Treasury Axel Martinez said in a Google Green blog post (December 20).

"We believe investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future."

According Mr Martinez, the projects will have a total capacity of 88 megawatts - equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.

The search engine's other clean energy investment for 2011 also include a 49 per cent stake in a solar farm in Germany and a $75 million investment to lease out rooftops solar panel systems to US homeowners.

The company's Mountain View headquarters has boasted 1.6 megawatts of rooftop solar panels since 2007, generating approximately 30 per cent of the peak power required for the site.

Google plans to continue expanding its investment in clean energy in the new year.

The news also follows Facebook's decision to provide renewable energy to the facilities it builds in the future, after receiving criticism from global environmental group Greenpeace.

Greenpeace's two-year campaign - dubbed "Unfriend Coal" - came to a close this week, with the social media company making an announcement online.

"We're excited to announce that we will be working with Greenpeace to move everyone closer to a world powered by clean and renewable energy, and to use the Facebook platform to engage people on energy and environmental issues," Facebook said on December 16

According to Tzeporah Berman, co-director of Greenpeace's International Climate and Energy Program, the two organisations now plan to work together to "encourage major energy producers to move away from coal and instead invest in renewable energy".

"This move sets an example for the industry to follow...This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities," she said.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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