Google Backs Biggest U.S. Offshore Wind Project

Continuing its strategy of using its cash to kickstart renewable energy businesses, Google is now backing the largest U.S. offshore wind farm project to date. The Atlantic Wind Connection is a proposed string of offshore wind turbines that will stretch 350 miles off the Atlantic coast from Virginia to New Jersey. Once completed, the project will produce 6,000 megawatts of power, which is equivalent to 60 percent of all the wind power built in the U.S. last year. The wind project will serve nearly 2 million homes.

The entire project is expected to cost about $5 billion, but Google is only investing in the first phase to help get it off the ground (or, rather, out to sea). The first phase includes only getting the necessary governmental approvals and financing before the wind power line can actually begin construction. While it is the least expensive part of the process, it is actually the trickiest because of popular opposition to offshore wind farms in general. Other investors include Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation.

Google has invested in wind projects before and entered into long-term contracts to purchase wind power. It’s last wind energy investment was $38.8 million, and this one will likely end up in the same range. Development stage costs for these kinds of projects usually run in the tens of millions of dollars. A Google spokesman says there are no related tax rebates or other benefits associated with the investment, rather Google is hoping to make a straight-up financial return.

Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC)