Google Scaling Solar, Commits $280 Million To Finance SolarCity Installations

Google today announced a new partnership with SolarCity, committing $280 million from its coffers to finance SolarCity installations, namely solar rooftops for homes in North America.

The partnership brings Google employees a discount on residential solar installations and services from SolarCity. On a worldwide basis, according to the company’s last quarterly earnings report, Google employs about 26,300 full-time.

Earlier this month, SolarCity locked a commitment from U.S. Bancorp that put them past the $1 billion mark in terms of financing capacity. Google becomes the company’s seventh major financing partner.

Rick Needham, director of green business operations at Google wrote about the deal in a company blog post this morning:

“[At Google, we] believe the world needs a wide range of clean energy options in the future, each serving different needs. We’ve already invested in several large-scale renewable energy projects…We think ‘distributed’ renewable energy (generated and used right at home) is a smart way to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to improve our power system since it helps avoid or alleviate distribution constraints on the traditional electricity grid.”

Google also put $168 million in project financing into the BrightSource Ivanpah solar power tower project. Back in 2006, Google installed solar panels at its own Mountain View campus, too.

Google’s support of solar infrastructure dovetails nicely with Google Ventures’ investments in smart grid startups. Their portfolio includes Silver Spring Networks and Transphorm, for example. The more homes and businesses are rigged up with solar panels, and able to generate and distribute power back through the grid, the more data such companies will have to process on behalf of utilities.