Google announced today that it is investing $75 million in a fund with Clean Power Finance to help up to 3,000 homeowners go solar, bringing the company's total investment in clean energy to $850 million.
"As we said when we made our first residential solar investment, we think it makes a lot of sense to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology—rooftop solar panels—to generate electricity right where you need it at home," says Google Director of Green Business Operations Rick Needham. "It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid."
"Purchasing a solar system is a major home improvement, but the upfront cost has historically been one of the biggest barriers for homeowners," Needham adds. "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."
Clean Power Finance has an open platform to connect installers and investors (Google in this case) to help homeowners finance the changes.
"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," explains Needham. "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."
You can see more about Google's various investments in clean energy here. They include, in addition to the Clean Power Finance investment, $280 in SolarCity (solar for residential rooftops), $10 million in Brightsource (solar), a 37.5% equity stake in Atlantic Wind Connection, $157 million in Alta Wind Energy Center, $100 million into Shepherd's Flat (wind farm), $38.8 million into Peace Garden wind farms, and about $5 million in Photovoltaics (solar).
Google has had solar panels on its own headquarters since 2007.