While the implosion of solar power company Solyndra has seemingly cast a shadow on the viability of the solar industry, that hasn’t stopped Google from investing $94 million in photovoltaic (generating power through solar radiation) projects in California.
Google says it’s investing the funds in four photovoltaic projects near Sacramento, Calif. which are being built by Recurrent Energy. The investment brings Google’s total clean tech portfolio to over $915 million. At this rate, Google’s clean tech investments will likely reach $1 billion within the next year.
“We’ve already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops,” writes assistant Google treasurer Axel Martinez. “But this investment represents our first investment in the U.S. in larger scale solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid — instead of on individual rooftop. These projects have a total capacity of 88 MW, equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.”
Google is making the investment together with KKR, which is today forming a new venture for solar projects, SunTap Energy. This will be KKR’s first clean tech investment in the U.S.
Solyndra ended up falling apart because it couldn’t compete with the falling solar panel prices from competitors. The company received a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy, a move that has undergone quite a bit of scrutiny over the past year. The failure of Solyndra is definitely a warning sign for the clean tech community, but hopefully more high-profile investments like Google’s will serve to rekindle excitement in clean tech, and specifically solar power.