“There’s a number of things attractive about renewables, besides the low carbon part of it. Prices are coming down to historic lows, and it makes sense from a price perspective,” said Daniel M. Kammen, professor of energy, UC Berkeley and former science envoy for the U.S. State Department.
The price to generate solar power has fallen dramatically over the past decade, from several hundred dollars per megawatt hour to as low as $25/megawatt hour currently, and the prices are expected to go as low as $14/megawatt hour, according to a recent forecast from energy market consultant Wood Mackenzie.
In a recent interview, Mike Terrell, head of energy market development at Google, said that the investments in renewable energy make “business sense,” citing inexpensive prices as a major factor. In the third quarter of 2018, corporate buyers of renewable projects, led by tech companies, experienced this largest single-quarter surge in purchase of large-scale solar projects, growing from 13 percent to 15 percent of the market, according to Wood Mackenzie.
Since 2010, Google has signed more than 30 solar and wind projects across the Americas and Europe, making it the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. The Taiwan project is not the first Google solar venture to be built in an unusual or difficult location. Google buys power from a project located in Chile’s infamously remote Atacama Desert, a place Hanna referred to as “one of the driest places on Earth.” The EL Romero Solar PV Plant has supplied clean energy that is equivalent to 240,000 homes and is the largest solar plant in Latin America, and one of the largest plants in the world.
In January, Google announced that in line with its construction of new data centers — which are energy-intensive operations — in Tennessee and Alabama, it is purchasing 413 megawatts of energy output from 1.6 million solar panels across several new solar power plants being constructed by NextEra Energy, Invenergy and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Two 150-megawatt solar projects in the TVA deal will be the largest ever for Google.
The 10-megawatt project in Taiwan — for which Google has partnered with Diode Ventures, Taiyen Green Energy, J&V Energy and New Green Power — is on track to be completed in 2020 and comes at a time when Google is investing in data centers in Taiwan.