Google Funds Power Backbone For Major Wind Farm

Google Inc.said it plans to help fund an ambitious project to lay undersea cables to connect offshore windmills off the mid-Atlantic coast.

The company said the so-called Atlantic Wind Connection backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines. That amount is equivalent to 60% of the wind energy installed in the entire U.S. last year, and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households, the technology giant said.

Google said in a blog post early Tuesday that the backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it via undersea cables to electrical-transmission systems on land. "This system will act as a superhighway for clean energy," wrote Rick Needham, Google's green-business operations director.

Other investors in the project include Japan's Marubeni Corp. and Good Energies, a U.S. company that invests in energy projects. Google said it had a 37.5% interest in the proposed project's initial development stage.

The project was reported earlier by the New York Times and Nikkei. Google's blog post didn't disclose a total value of the initiative, and a company spokesman couldn't be reached for comment. The Times article put the total cost at $5 billion.

Google said the mid-Atlantic region's "shallow waters make it easier to install turbines 10-15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are virtually out-of-sight from land."

The proposed project could remove "a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind," Google said, noting that last week the federal government approved the first-ever offshore wind-development lease for a different project. And it would help lessen the load on the Northeast power grid, the company said.

Mr. Needham added that the company wants to be a leader in developing renewable energy but is investing "in projects that make good business sense" and offer "attractive returns."

Google has made a series of investments beyond its core Internet-search business. The latest announcement came two days after the company said it had developed technology that lets cars drive themselves, which it said could cut carbon emissions and save lives. In May, Google said it had invested about $40 million in two North Dakota wind farms, its first direct investment in utility-scale renewable energy generation.

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