Google and NRG: A Solar Powerhouse as Ivanpah Turns On

The world’s largest solar power plant is finally online.  The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, located in the Mojave Desert on the California – Nevada border, uses 347,000 mirrors to generate 392 megawatts of electricity (enough to power about 140,000 homes).  It is estimated the facility will prevent about 400,000 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere every year.

Image courtesy of NRG Energy



It is not surprising that Google is in on this cutting edge technological innovation; the company invested $168 million in the project.  In fact, the total amount of investments Google has made in solar power total over $1 billion.
Google sets itself apart from other tech companies in that it invests in renewable energy not only to power its own operations, but also to generate electricity for homes and businesses in the community.  Rick Needham, Google’s director of energy and sustainability told CNBC in an interview,

“We’ve invested over a billion dollars in 15 projects that have the capacity to produce two gigawatts of power around the world, mostly in the US, but that’s the equivalent of Hoover’s Dam worth of power generation.”

Even Greenpeace has taken notice of Google’s renewable energy commitment, and honored the company with the number one spot on its “Cool IT Leaderboard,” (a ranking shared with Cisco). As Greenpeace explains;

Google continues to retain the top ranking for policy advocacy, challenging the IT sector to work with them to help bring more renewable energy on the grid. Google has remained active in pushing government decision-makers for policies that will support energy efficiency and renewable energy investment, particularly in the U.S.

The Ivanpah facility is a huge part of Google’s success in the renewable energy sector, and as the facility continues to generate power it will only improve the status of clean energy in the US. Google, along with NRG Energy, and BrightSource Energy, which co-own the facility, are on the forefront of the next generation of electricity generation. These companies understand that renewable, clean energy not only makes environmental sense, they make business sense. As solar and wind power costs go down, fossil fuels will be obsolete, and more difficult to keep financially viable. Companies switching to renewable energy now will avoid playing catch-up later when it becomes necessary to convert from fossil fuel power to sources like wind and solar.

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