Google to Undertake Nation’s Largest Corporate Solar Project

October 22, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Google Inc. announced that it plans to install what industry experts claim will be the nation's largest corporate solar project. Google plans to put about 9,200 solar panels on the rooftops of six buildings at its Mountain View, CA headquarters by next spring. The project, to be built by EI Solutions, will produce up to 1.6MW of electricity – enough to supply roughly 30% of the complex's electricity demands on an optimally sunny day – which some analysts claim would be a record for such a facility.

The announcement comes at a time when companies and government agencies are searching for cost-effective ways to ensure reliable electrical power. Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus, for instance, began operating a 480kW solar-panel system earlier this year. The Santa Clara Valley Water District and Cypress Semiconductor of Sunnyvale, CA also have large solar-panel installations in Silicon Valley. Industry analysts have been pointing out that recent threats of rolling power blackouts along with state-funded economic incentives are pushing solar's popularity.

David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate at Google, said concern about the environment as well as the rising price of electricity motivated the company to go solar. "Google is so committed to advancing green technology throughout the workplace. If we can dispel the myth along the way that you can't be green and profitable at the same time, that's another benefit.'"

The company has also installed motion sensors in rooms to turn lights on and off according to usage, serves only organically-grown foods in its cafeterias, and provides commuter shuttles that remove hundreds of cars from the road each day, according to Radcliffe. Google's system will produce enough power to supply approximately 1,000 average California homes. Radcliffe declined to say how much the solar installation would cost but stated that the energy would pay for itself within a decade.