Google invests $300m in SolarCity's $750m residential PV fund

Google has today shattered its previous renewable energy investment record by announcing it has poured $300 million into SolarCity’s $750 million fund for residential solar PV projects.

The announcement dwarfs Google’s $280 million investment in SolarCity in 2011, and serves as a bold statement of intent for the tech giant – and a ringing endorsement of solar power’s growing prominence in the U.S. energy landscape.

"Corporations are starting to realize the importance of using clean energy," said SolarCity chief executive Lyndon Rive. "Historically the companies that have financed solar deployment have been the big financial institutions and we’ve seen the movement in the sector of tech companies getting into the space and helping to transform a dirty infrastructure to a clean infrastructure."

Google’s involvement in SolarCity’s residential fund will enable the solar leasing leader to bolster its presence in 15 U.S. states, enabling an estimated 25,000 additional U.S. homeowners to benefit from no-upfront-cost solar power and lower energy bills from their installed system. Typically, SolarCity’s scheme offsets installation costs to the tune of around $20,000-$30,000 – a sum that is out of reach for the majority of U.S. residences.

"We’re happy to support SolarCity’s mission to help families reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs," said Google’s renewable energy principal, Siddharth Mundra. "It’s good for the environment, good for families and also makes good business sense."

As Google has entered into the agreement as a "tax equity" investor, the company is able to claim federal tax credits worth 30% of the solar project’s cost, making the scheme extremely attractive to a company that has already spent $1.5 billion on renewable energy projects worldwide.

Google’s support for SolarCity follows shortly after Apple announced that it is to invest some $848 million on a large-scale, First Solar-developed 130 MW solar farm to power its California stores and national corporate offices.

The investment from Google will bolster SolarCity’s presence in a number of key markets. The company ended 2014 with 190,000 customers on its books and 1 GW of solar PV deployed.