Today, Google announced it will be investing $280 million to pay for approximately 10,000 rooftop solar systems to be installed on the roofs of homes across the United States, at no cost to the homeowner. This astounding alternative energy investment is part of Google’s overall plan to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Investing in Solar
It was only in April when Google announced a partnership with Brightsource Energy which would see a $168 million solar power tower built in the Mojave Desert, but the search-engine giant has already taken its next step towards spreading solar across America, and it’s bigger than anyone could have expected.
Now, Google is partnering with home solar panel installer SolarCity to set up solar energy generating systems on the roofs of houses for no upfront cost to the homeowner – they simply pay for the energy their home uses, as they normally would, but instead back to SolarCity, and for a lesser cost.
Spreading solar to homes
The standard 5 kW solar roof installation on a home can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000, which deters many homeowners with viable roof space from investing in the first place. However, now that Google has essentially given SolarCity $280 million to work with, solar roofs will be popping up all over the place. While many may be eager to jump at the chance to have a free set of solar panels on their roof, there are certain factors that make a roof ideal for generating the maximum amount of energy, including geographic location, direction of roof, and amount of roof space available.
The good news for anyone who is granted a new solar roof is that approximately 60% of their energy bills will now be covered by clean energy. Although they will still be paying for this energy, it will be less than what they pay for standard electricity. The remaining 40% of energy consumption would continue to be paid for as usual.
Google’s alternative energy investments
This marks the 7th investment in an alternative energy system Google has made since its inception, and brings the total dollar amount of its clean energy investments up to a whopping $680 million dollars. So how is it making money?
In this case, Google is generating money from the solar installations on home rooftops in 4 ways:
- A 30% tax creditfrom the federal government
- Writing off the cost of the solar systems by applying “accelerated depreciation“
- Interest from SolarCity for the use of their invested dollars
- Reaping benefits of state and local tax credits for renewable energy projects
Regardless of how Google makes money on this investment, we are just happy they are setting the bar as high as possible for green businesses to invest in the environment, and promote the generation of alternative energy in any way possible.