Google plows further into wind energy market with Swedish deal

Google's efforts to power its search engines with 100 percent renewable energy took another step forward when the company agreed to buy electricity from four Swedish wind farms. Earlier this week, Eolus Vind confirmed it had signed a 10-year deal to sell the power from 29 of its wind turbines in southern Sweden to the IT giant, offering a total capacity of 59 MW.

The wind farms are each in a different municipality in Sweden, which Eolus said lowered the risk to Google if one went offline. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it is unclear exactly when the deal was reached.

The agreement comes hot on the heels of Google's latest investment in a Texas wind farm at the end of December, which saw the company plow $75 million into the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, which will offer a capacity of 182 MW and is expected to be operational by the end of the year. In addition, Google has signed a power purchase agreement to buy all the energy from the Happy Hereford wind farm, also in Texas.

"We're always looking for ways to increase the amount of renewable energy we use," said Francois Sterin, director of global infrastructure at Google. "Long-term power purchase agreements enable wind farm developers to add new generation capacity to the grid — which is good for the environment — but they also make great financial sense for companies like Google."

In related news, a couple days ago, the United State's first offshore wind farm won a U.S. Court of Appeal decision upholding a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve the scheme. Opponents of the wind farm had attempted to appeal against the approval, but the court found the FAA's "no hazard" decision on the project was justified.

However, while one battle was won, another legal suit was filed against the project this week by opponents who believe Massachusetts regulators were wrong to approve a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the flagship project with utility NSTAR. NSTAR is planning to buy 27.5 percent of the power generated by Cape Wind, once it is constructed, but the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the town of Barnstable and a number of local businesses and individuals claim the deal discriminated against power companies outside the state.

This story first appeared at BusinessGreen.com. Photo of wind turbine in Sweden by BMJ via Shutterstock.