Google to invest $145m USD to transform spent oil field into 82MW solar farm

Internet search engine giant Google is investing $145 million in a renewable energy project that will see an old oil and gas field in California transformed into a solar farm.

The 82MW solar project by SunEdison marks Google’s 17th renewable energy investment, and puts the company’s total clean energy spend at more than $1.5 billion, for projects spanning three continents and totalling a capacity of more than 2.5GW.

SunEdison’s “Regulus” solar project, in Kern County in Google’s home state, will be its largest in North America once finished, comprising more than 248,000 monocrystalline solar PV panels spanning 737 acres.

“Over the years, this particular site in California has gone from 30 oil wells to five as it was exhausted of profitable fossil fuel reserves,” writes Google’s renewable energy principal Nick Coons on Google’s blog. “The land sat for some time and today we’re ready to spiff things up.”

The owner of the system, TerraForm Power, will sell the output to Southern California Prudential Capital Group and Santander Bank both provided term financing.

As Forbes reports, Google’s various long-term agreements for renewable power generated approximately 870,000 megawatt-hours last year, covering 23 per cent of the company’s total power needs.

Between those contracts, the green power it buys from the grid and its own on-site projects, it sources about 35 per cent of its electricity from renewables.

In April, Google announced a huge deal with Iowa utilities to supply its data center facilities there with up to 407MW of wind energy, as well as a partnership with solar giant SunPower, to get in on the burgeoning US residential solar leasing market.

Top image: Regulus project site in Kern County, California. Image via SunEdison

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson