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Google has invested €3.5 million (roughly $5 million) in a German 18.7-megawatt solar power plant in a small town near Berlin.

It’s Google’s first investment in clean technology outside of the United States, and it’s made the investment with German-based private equity firm Capital Stage.

The solar power plant occupies around 116 acres and can generate enough power for around 5,000 homes. More than 70 percent of the panels installed at the plant are manufactured in Germany.

The search giant has already been pushing clean technology stateside and its investment arm, Google Ventures, has invested in several clean technology companies.

Solar power farms use flat photovoltaic panels that absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity. One photovoltaic cell typically generates around a watt of power. Solar panels that are seen throughout the world are large collections of photovoltaic cells, usually around 6 inches across each.

The US solar power industry seems to be doing well and is on track to have a good year, but it looks like there is more interest in solar panel technology internationally — particularly in Germany and Japan. That’s because a massive surge in residential solar panels in Germany and Japan fueled consumer demand for small-scale solar power projects, according to a report by Pew.

Germany came in second after the United States in the amount it invested last year in clean technology. The country investing $41.2 billion in 2010, double what it invested in 2009, according to the report. Total investments in solar power technology amounted to $79 billion — or 40 percent of all clean technology investments, up 53 percent from 2009.

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