Google buys significant stake in wind energy infrastructure off the US coast

Search engine giant Google Inc. will buy a 37.5 percent stake in a new, $5 billion network of underwater transmission lines that will carry electricity into the US from wind turbines positioned off the Atlantic coast.

When completed, the Atlantic Wind Connection project will stretch 350 miles off the US coast from New Jersey to Virginia, and will be able to connect 6,000 MW of offshore wind turbines.

That’s roughly equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire US in 2009, and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households, Google said.

Dan Reicher, director of Google’s energy and climate projects, said in an interview with The New York Times that the project signal’s the internet firm’s desire “to have some real impact as we are also making serious financial returns in our energy project investing.”

He added, “We couldn’t be in a better place at a better moment to be making an investment like this.”

Google is betting that its support will encourage other investors to back wind farming, which the Global Wind Energy Council says will generate more than 22 percent of the world’s electricity in two decades.

The investment also may help the US narrow a lead held by China, which is installing more than twice the wind-generating power of the US, according to the Times.

The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it efficiently via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system.

“This system will act as a superhighway for clean energy,” according to Google’s company blog.

In a statement, William M. Moore, CEO of Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island (US)-based offshore wind developer, welcomed news of the investment.

“Harvesting the clean and abundant wind resources off of America's coasts is critical to our country's economic and national security, and transmission of that clean power is a critical component to building this industry,” Moore said.

“[This announcement] confirms the importance of developing the transmission infrastructure necessary to support this growing industry,” he said.

For additional information:

Official Google blog


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