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Rick Needham (center) with partners Arielle Bertman and Matthew Stepka at the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm  (Source: The Official Google Blog)
Google has invested $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Arlington, Oregon

Aside from running the successful Android operating system and the world's most popular search engine, Google has been making some environmentally conscious efforts as well. Just last week, the web giant invested $168 million in the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System located in the Mojave Desert in California.

Now, Google is investing $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Arlington, Oregon. It will be joining this project with Caithness Energy, which is the project developer, and GE, an early investor and turbine manufacturer as well as an operations and maintenance supplier. Other investors include Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is still under construction, but is expected to be the largest wind farm in the world. Once completed, it will produce 845 megawatts of energy, which can power over 235,000 homes. 

"This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations for Google in The Official Google Blog. "This will be the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators - tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. Though the technology has been installed outside the U.S., it's an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the U.S."

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is expected to help benefit Oregon economically, and will also help California meet its renewable energy goals. In addition, the electricity generated at the wind farm will be sold to Southern California Edison under "long term agreements." 

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm will be completed in 2012. 

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RE: I wonder
By Iaiken on 4/19/2011 12:45:09 PM , Rating: 0
Yep, insanity.

Many energy giants (my employer included) are increasingly transitioning to investments in the development of large scale solar and wind operations.

Why? I assure you that the motivation behind it is not altruistic in the slightest. It's because the demand for electricity and all other energy is still growing year over year all while outstripping supply. Savvy and limited investment in these technologies over time allows these companies to hold on to more of their limited supplies longer in a bid to hold out the longest for the highest prices later.

Now, there are a few things that complicate this, such as carbon credits and other subsidies that help them offset the slightly higher costs today. However, this is mostly immaterial and unnecessary since any electricity price forecasts that include the retirement schedule of existing generation and the noteworthy absence of future large generation projects project a growing increase of between 8% and 10% year over year for the next 10 years. That means the cost of electricity will more than double in that time. By then, these incentives, coupled with increasing profits will allow these investments yield steadily increasing profits in the future on both their electricity as well as their oil and gas.

This runs directly contrary to the Republican obsession with independence through exhaustion. If you apply logic to "Drill baby, drill!" it basically translates to: "The sooner we get that oil up out of the ground and use it up, the more independent we'll be." The reverse is actually the truth. Preserving your own oil reserves while using up those of competing interest is the road to independence and greater profit in the long run.

RE: I wonder
By nafhan on 4/19/2011 1:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
"Energy giants" building wind and solar installations means one thing: they can make money at it. The reason that they can make money at it could be that wind and solar are incredibly efficient and superior to other power generation methods, or it could be that a national government is giving them piles of cash to build the solar and wind installations...

I disagree that things which artificially lower the cost of an inefficient power generation method are immaterial. Money saved now could, for example, go into paying off the national debt.

RE: I wonder
By Harinezumi on 4/19/2011 1:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
It takes time and money to develop new technologies and make them profitable. Often a lot of time and a lot of money. While free enterprise is excellent at quickly coming up with the most efficient and profitable applications for available or soon-to-be-available technology, it doesn't have a particularly good record investing for the long haul. When you invest a significant portion of your capital into projects that won't start paying off for 20-30 years while your competitors focus on the short term, you're not likely to survive as a company long enough to reap the benefits of those projects.

That's where the government comes it. It makes perfect sense for the government to invest taxpayer money into long-term projects that are likely to provide good long-term returns to the taxpayers if such projects cannot be profitably pursued by companies in the short-term. It makes even more sense to provide incentives and subsidies that would allow companies to overcome their vulnerability to taking long-term risks and get them to shoulder part of the cost in exchange for a proportional part of the benefit.

RE: I wonder
By JediJeb on 4/19/2011 2:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
Government investing in the R&D of these technologies makes sense, but government subsidizing the installation of these systems before they have matured just for the sake of installing them does not.

Any company who is installing large solar or wind systems just for the tax write off even if it really doesn't impact their energy budget are only gaming the system and sucking tax revenue out of more important things like getting rid of our debt. I am ok with government financing the Research, but let commercial groups handle installing the working systems when the technology is mature enough to support itself.

RE: I wonder
By Iaiken on 4/19/2011 3:24:46 PM , Rating: 3
I am ok with government financing the Research

With what money? People want government financing and grants for the advancement of these things, but don't want taxes.

As long as people are paying taxes so the government can service interest payments on the artificial wealth of private central banks, those people are slaves to the private central bank.

1. Realize that the Federal Reserve is not Federal and has only a 10% fractional reserve.
2. Remove the central banks exclusive control over the money supply.
3. Force the banks to gradually reach 100% reserve banking.
4. Open the banks to federal oversight and audits to enforce the above.
5. Gradually print money to retire the debt, allow banks to grow their reserves and facilitate trade.

The control of the money supply belongs in the hands of congress and the taxpayers; not some private, for-profit enterprise that has never been audited.

Did you know that for every $1 in bonds that congress creates and is credited for by the Federal Reserve, another $9 in fictitious credit can be extended to the private banks? Say nine banks each get one of these $1 credits, they can then each create $9 in fictitious credit themselves? So the one real dollar from the bond must then service $81 of fictional credit, plus interest. The answer? MOAR DEBT!!! :P

Most every issue we complain about; taxes, energy, inflation, employment, are all just smokescreens that hide the real problem; the absence of control over the money supply. Read the detailed history of the greenback and weep for it's tragic death at the hands of the international banks and our enslavement by compound interest.

RE: I wonder
By nafhan on 4/19/2011 5:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
It certainly does take time and money to make things profitable, and that's an argument to keep things at the R&D stage until they can be deployed profitably. I don't think this is a good long term investment for taxpayers in any way. Put the money into materials science if it has to be spent.

RE: I wonder
By room200 on 4/19/2011 10:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
So I guess you are also against other subsidies also? It's not like the oil companies need them.

RE: I wonder
By espaghetti on 4/20/2011 1:15:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, this government shouldn't be able to spend a penny outside of infrastructure or defense. The word "subsidize" causes blood to shoot from my eyes.

God, I'm getting old.

RE: I wonder
By nafhan on 4/20/2011 1:32:27 PM , Rating: 2

RE: I wonder
By SPOOFE on 4/19/2011 7:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
Many energy giants (my employer included) are increasingly transitioning to investments in the development of large scale solar and wind operations. Why?

Government subsidies, I'll bet.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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