Google <3 Solar PowerGoogle has piles of money, and rather than invest it all in boring bonds and t-bills, it is putting some of its cash to work in green projects (see the links at the bottom of this post). One of these projects is the leasing of solar panels by residential customers - they have already invested $280 million into it - a concept that is mostly constrained by capital, since there's a big upfront cost that is then recouped over a number of years. Google's money can definitely make a difference and help turn more roofs into clean-energy generators.
Google's new solar investment is of $75 million to create an initial fund with Clean Power Finance that will help up to 3,000 homeowners go solar.
Purchasing a solar system is a major home improvement, but the upfront cost has historically been one of the biggest barriers for homeowners. Solar installers across the country don't always have the resources to find financing for customers, or the capital to provide it themselves. And for investors like Google, banks and others, it can be difficult to enter a fragmented solar market with many companies, and get connected to individual homeowners.
That's where Clean Power Finance comes in. They've developed an open platform that connects installers with investors like Google to provide financing to homeowners. Solar installers sign up with Clean Power Finance to get access to the company's comprehensive sales solutions, including consumer financing from investors, like the Google fund. This enables installers to sell more systems and grow their business. The installer builds the system, the investor (in this case, Google) owns it, and homeowners pay a monthly payment for the system, at a price that's often less than paying for energy from the grid. Maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers
Hopefully other cash-rich companies will follow Google's lead and invest some of that money into this low-risk venture (the amount of electricity produced by solar panels is pretty predictable, and so it's fairly easy to calculate returns) that actually makes the world a better place.
Clean energy is very important because it is upstream of so many things -- when you clean up the grid, you clean up everything that runs on it.
More on Google's Clean Energy Investments
Google Invests $55 Million in California's Massive 1,550MW Alta Wind Farm
Google Invests $168 Million in 392MW Mojave Desert Solar Thermal Plant
Google Invests $100m in What Will be the World's Largest Wind Farm (845 MW)