The Sun Isn’t Setting on Google’s Solar Empire

Solar panels


Not content with stopping at lucky number 13, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) will soon be embarking on its 14th investment in renewable energy, according to a Thursday press releases from the companies involved. Google will be again partnering with global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (NYSE:KKR) to have solar facilities developed by Recurrent Energy. The three previously collaborated in California in 2011 on a solar energy project.

Google announced the news on its blog. It has an $80 million stake in the investment, which includes six facilities in Arizona and California. Combined, the projects have a capacity of 106 megawatts, which will power more than 17,000 homes in the United States, according to Google.

Google has so far invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects. The projects also extend beyond the U.S., with solar projects in South Africa and Germany.

KKR has also reached globally to invest in clean energy sources, according to its press release. KKR has entered into five such projects in the past three years. In France, it invested in wind energy; in Spain, solar.

Ravi Gupta, a senior member on KKR’s infrastructure team, said the current partnership “is ultimately about growing our clean energy resources in North America” in a press release. KKR expects the projects to be functioning by January.

Also in the KKR release was a statement by Kojo Ako-Asare, Google’s head of corporate finance. ”Investing in renewable energy is core to Google’s values — we believe strongly in making investments that are both good for the environment and good for business,” Ako-Asare said.

According the U.S. Department of Energy, there was tremendous growth in solar projects in 2012. Developers increased installation 76 percent during 2012 compared to 2011.  The scale of the Google-KKR investment is one “super-sized” project identified by the Department of Energy in a rundown of five of 2012′s clean energy investments. Mesquite Solar 1 is located in Maricopa County, Arizona, and it provides 124 megawatts of energy. During peak construction times, it generated 530 jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the total amount of money involved, both investment and debt, in the project by KKR and Google is $400 million.

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