Google has just revealed the company’s latest venture into the field of renewable energy sources by announcing what they say is the planet’s largest solar power project. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, is situated on the California-Nevada border. It uses 347,000 mirrors that face the sun, to produce 392 megawatts of electricity. This amount of energy is enough to power more than 140,000 homes. Google has invested a massive $168 million (£101m) into the solar plant. This latest venture is one in a series of fifteen such like investments, which Google has made in renewable energy in the last year alone. This last deal, has taken the company past the $1 billion (£599m) mark for its total investment into solar and wind energies.
Rick Needham, Google’s director of energy and sustainability, informed CNBC. “We’ve invested over a billion dollars in 15 projects that have the capacity to produce two gigawatts of power around the world, mostly in the US, but that’s the equivalent of Hoover’s Dam worth of power generation..The fact is that all of these things, procuring power for ourselves, investing in power plants, renewable power plants, they all make business sense, they make sense for us as a company to do. We rely on power for our business.”
The Ivanpah plant actually cost $2.2 billion (£1.31bn) in overall costs to complete, with $1.6 billion (£957m) of this amount coming from federal loans. The plant is jointly owned by NRG Energy and Bright Source Energy, alongside Google. You can take a virtual tour around the plant here. According to Needham, approximately 34 percent of Google’s operations are powered by renewable sources.
But, despite it’s green purpose, the Ivanpah plant has come under fire concerning it’s the effect that it is having on the local wildlife. The solar facility has been accused of killing birds due to the thousand-degree heat, which it projects into the atmosphere. Regardless of the company’s issues it may have with this plant, the firm’s green credentials have gained them the top spot in Greenpeace’s ‘Green IT’ league table of environmentally friendly technology firms in 2013.