Google in solar power investment
Internet search giant Google is looking to plug into solar power systems.
The firm will provide 75 million dollars (£48 million) to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the US.
Google will own the panels, and get paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce.
The company is creating a fund with a San Francisco company called Clean Power Finance that local solar installers will be able to tap so they can offer financing plans to prospective buyers.
The plans allow homeowners to install a 30,000 dollar (£19,360) solar electricity system on their house for little or no money up front.
Instead, customers pay a monthly fee that is the same or less than what they would otherwise be paying their local utility for power.
Google will earn what it calls an attractive return on its investment in two ways. It gets the monthly fee from homeowners, and, as the owner of the systems, Google will get the benefit of federal and state renewable energy subsidies.
The systems will not carry the Google brand, however. Instead, local installers will offer the financing deal under their own brands.
Solar power has gotten dramatically cheaper, but the up-front cost for a homeowner remains formidable. A typical home system costs 25,000 (£16,100) to 30,000 US dollars (£19,360). Federal and state governments offer subsidies to help defray the cost somewhat, but it is still far too much money for many homeowners to shell out.
One of Google's ten philosophical pillars is: "You can make money without doing evil," and reducing the environmental impact of its business has long been a focus of co-founder and CEO Larry Page. The company says that since 2007, it has completely offset its emissions of greenhouse gases by paying for projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.