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Google helps fund wind farm backbone

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Google is teaming up with Good Energies and Marubeni Corp. to fund the development stage of an undersea wind farm backbone that will stretch down the Mid-Atlantic region.

Google helping to fund the development stage of an undersea wind farm backbone that will stretch down the Mid-Atlantic region.

In a blog post, Google said it will fund the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone, a series of undersea transmission lines connecting various wind turbines from New Jersey to Delaware to Virginia.

When complete, the AWC backbone will cover 350 miles and connect 6,000 MW of wind turbines. In theory, this network could ease the pressure on an overstretched power grid on the East Coast.

Why would Google fund an operation like this? Google is always looking for cheap power sources for its data centers and has been playing with alternative energy sources for years. The search giant has looked into everything from wind turbines to wave powered floating datacenters.

Tran-Elect, an electric power transmission company, will manage the AWC project. Google will invest 37.5 percent of the equity with Good Energies and Marubeni Corp. making up the remainder. Google noted that the funding for the development stage is only part of the money equation. The New York Times put the total project's cost at $5 billion or so. The first phase of construction, which would cost about $1.8 billion, would start on a 150-mile span from New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Del. and be available in 2016, according to the Times.

Good Energies has funded a bevy of clean energy startups. Marubeni has energy projects all over the world including Ghana, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

Google said that investing in these projects is a calculated risk that could generate attractive returns.

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Larry Dignan


Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure