Google, EDP Renewables Partner on 80 Solar Energy Projects

May 05, 2023 by Claire Turvill

Google and EDPR NA Distributed Generation LLC have partnered to provide more than 80 distributed solar photovoltaic projects, totaling 500 MW(AC), to low-to-moderate income communities across the U.S.

Google and EDPR NA DG ‒ the distributed generation business unit of EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) ‒ have signed a framework agreement to support the deployment of multiple solar panels across the United States. This significant undertaking is said to be the largest corporate investment in distributed solar development in the United States.


Solar panel installation

Solar panel installation. Image used courtesy of Pixabay


This collaboration has been named The Clean Energy Financial Benefit Sharing Program. The focus of the program is to assist low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities across the U.S. through the installation of 80 solar installation projects that will total 500 MWAC. The projects are expected to be utility-scale ‒ solar projects that generate 10 MW or more of energy ‒ with at least 10% of profits going towards high-energy-burden communities.


Renewable Energy Credits

The Clean Energy Financial Benefit Sharing Program will receive funding from Google’s purchase of a unique renewable energy credit (REC) called ImpactREC. This credit operates similarly to traditional RECs in terms of being generated and eligible for compliance markets but is unique in that its issuance includes covenants that guarantee direct investment in the community and direct benefits for low- and moderate-income households. 

RECs, or Green Energy Certificates, are tradable certificates representing the environmental benefits of generating renewable energy. A REC is created for every renewable megawatt-hour produced and represents the environmental attributes of that energy. 

RECs are typically bought and sold separately from the physical electricity generated by renewable energy projects. This means buyers can claim the benefits of renewable energy generation without purchasing the electricity. 

In this way, Google and EDPR NA DG benefit because the companies are supplying solar panels to communities in need while simultaneously reducing their environmental footprint through ImpactREC.

Over the past two years, Christopher Rittenhouse and Adam Woda of the EDPR NA DG team collaborated with Google to create and develop the ImpactREC product and its supporting framework agreement.


Solar energy project

Solar energy project. Image used courtesy of Pixabay


PJM Interconnection

The agreement is in line with an environmental justice program that will benefit more than 25,000 households in LMI neighborhoods, with a primary emphasis on ventures in the PJM Interconnection service territory, spanning from New Jersey to Ohio. The first of these projects will be established in Ohio, where Google has a data center hub in New Albany and a Google Cloud region in Columbus.

There is a disproportionately high barrier to entry for bringing renewable energy programs to LMI communities. Challenges include the high upfront costs, lack of financing options, policy barriers, and lack of awareness. By creating the Clean Energy Financial Benefit Sharing Program, Google and EDPR NA DG support an equitable energy transition. 

The impact of high energy costs is a concern that local community leaders and Environmental Justice advocates raised in conversations with Sana Ouji, the energy lead at Google. Ouji has conveyed that this program will help to address this issue and advance Google’s goal of 24/7 carbon-free energy in communities where Google and EDPR operate.