Google is extending its investment in green technology with a $5bn (£3.2bn) programme to build an undersea, wind energy transmission backbone along 350 miles of the Atlantic seaboard.
grid project, which stands to serve 1.9m homes from Virginia to New
Jersey with up to 6,000 megawatts of electric power from dozens of
windfarms 10 miles off the mid-Atlantic coast, is the most ambitious of
Google announced it is working with Trans-Elect and two
other firms, but has not offered a timetable for construction. "This
system will act as a superhighway for clean energy," said Rick Needham,
Google's green-business operations director.
Investment in both
wind energy programmes and the controversial extraction of shale oil
from deposits in North Dakota, Montana and Alberta, Canada, has
increased since the BP spill over the summer caused US lawmakers to curb
permits for offshore oil and gas drilling.
For Google, the
Atlantic Wind Connection Project is in line with earlier investments. In
May, it put $40m into two North Dakota windfarms, its first
clean-energy investment. Two days ago the firm announced it had tested a self-driving electric car on Californian highways.
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announcement offers hope that further investment will pour into the
lagging US wind-energy programme. Consistent wind through Montana and
the Dakotas, off the South Carolina coast and across the Texas panhandle
gives the US windfarm industry an opportunity to supply significant
amounts of electricity to the grid.
But compared with China, now
the leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar energy equipment,
the US had been comparatively slow in adopting the technology. Public
opposition to windfarms, including a large project off the presidential
holiday island of Martha's Vineyard, has taken years to resolve.
may now be changing: the Global Wind Energy Council industry group
estimates wind-power investment may reach $202bn over the next 20 years.
Hodges, a wind industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said:
"The North American wind industry hasn't had any players involved with
the motivation and financial heft to really move this market forward.
Google could play that role."