Google backs offshore wind power project
Google is backing a plan to lay undersea cables to connect offshore windmills off the mid-Atlantic coast, a step the Internet giant hopes will boost wind power as an energy source.
The $5-billion offshore wind power transmission line will stretch 350 miles from New Jersey to Virginia and could supply enough wind energy to serve about 1.9 million households. But the ambitious project faces hurdles.
Google said in a blog post that the project will rely on offshore power hubs that collect power from 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.
The project could lighten the load on the congested Northeast power grid, Needham said. He noted that the federal government last week approved the first-ever offshore wind development lease for another project. The New York Times has more details on the project.
Needham also called the investment a "calculated risk" as Google looks to promote renewable energy. Google has an initial 37.5% interest in the project.
Google, which is an energy guzzler with its massive data centers, has invested in wind farms and buys wind energy as part of its bid to become carbon neutral. It has also taken other steps such as solar installations at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
This is not the first time that Google has ventured far afield from its moneymaking core Internet search advertising business. On Saturday, Google said it is developing technology that lets cars drive themselves.
-- Jessica Guynn