Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Investing in the Alta Wind Energy Center

Investing in the Alta Wind Energy Center

5/24/2011 07:00:00 AM
(Cross-posted from the Google Green Blog)

The Mojave Desert might be best known for its scorching sun and scary sidewinders, but the wind blows hard where the Mojave sands meet the Tehachapi Mountains in southern California, making it a great spot for wind turbines. It’s the site of the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC), which will generate 1,550 megawatts (MW) of energy when complete, making it one of the largest sites in the country for wind energy generation—enough to power 450,000 homes. Renewable energy developer Terra-Gen Power is constructing the site in several phases and we’ll provide $55 million to finance the 102 MW Alta IV project. Citibank, which has underwritten the equity for Alta Projects II-V, is also investing in this project.

We’re always looking for projects that are uniquely positioned to transform our energy sector. As part of the new 4,500 MW Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP), AWEC uses some of the first transmission lines developed specifically to transport renewable energy from remote, resource-rich areas (like the Mojave) to major population centers.

The Alta Wind Energy Center under construction

The Alta projects also employ an innovative financial structure called a leveraged lease, which has been used previously in the solar industry but has only recently become an option for wind projects. Under the leveraged lease, Google and Citi are purchasing the Alta IV project and will lease it back to Terra-Gen, who will manage and operate the wind projects under long-term agreements. We hope this structure encourages more investment by enabling other types of investors who might not typically consider wind projects.

The first five Alta projects are already operational, delivering 720 MW of energy to Southern California Edison, which will receive all 1,550 MW when completed, under a power purchase agreement signed with Terra-Gen in 2006. While Google won’t be purchasing the electricity from this project, AWEC will help California meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent clean power by 2020. The whole site will boost California’s wind generation by 30 percent.

With this deal, we’ve now invested more than $400 million in the clean energy sector. We hope AWEC’s success, with its unique deal structure and renewable energy transmission, encourages more financing and development of renewables that will usher in a new energy future.

The votes are in for the Google Science Fair Finalists and People’s Choice Award Winner

The votes are in for the Google Science Fair Finalists and People’s Choice Award Winner

5/23/2011 09:04:00 AM
(Cross-posted from the Google Science Fair Blog and on the Google Students Blog)

From winged keels to water turbines, from prosthetic limbs to programming in pure English, it’s been a fascinating two weeks for our Google Science Fair judges. It was no easy task to select 15 finalists out of the 60 semi-finalists—all of the students’ projects asked interesting questions, many focused on real-world problems and some produced groundbreaking science that challenged current conventions.

After much deliberation we’re happy to announce the 15 finalists:

Age 13 - 14
Anand Srinivasan, USA
Daniel Arnold, USA
Lauren Hodge, USA
Luke Taylor, South Africa
Michelle Guo, USA

Age 15 - 16
Dora Chen, USA
Gavin Ovsak, USA
Harine Ravichandran, India
Naomi Shah, USA
Skanda Koppula, USA

Age 17 - 18
Christopher Neilsen, Canada
Matthew Morris, USA
Shaun Lim Hsien Yang, Singapore
Shree Bose, USA
Vighnesh Leonardo Shiv, USA

In July, these finalists will come to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to present their projects to our panel of finalist judges, including science luminaries, technology innovators and one Nobel laureate. They’ll compete for prizes that include $100,000 in scholarship funds, real-life experiences at CERN, Google, LEGO and Scientific American, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions. The winners will be announced at our celebration gala that same evening, beginning at 6:00 p.m. PDT July 11. The event will be streamed live on our YouTube channel so make sure to tune in.

In addition, over the past two weeks people around the world have had the opportunity to vote for their favorite projects in our online voting gallery. We’ve had more than 100,000 votes and the competition was really tight, but we’re happy to announce that Nimal Subramanian is the People’s Choice Award winner. Nimal will receive a $10,000 scholarship. Congratulations Nimal—the public really loved your project!

Congratulations to all the finalists and the People’s Choice Award winner. We look forward to meeting the finalists at Google in July.