Google has announced its first ever renewable energies investment in Africa, putting $12m (103 million Rand) in the Jasper Power Project, a 96 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in South Africa.
Once it’s complete, the Jasper Power Project will be among the largest solar installations in Africa, and it could generate enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes.
Google has been building a track record in renewable energy-investments across the US and Europe. Recently, it has put $75m in a wind farm in Iowa and, well, $200m in another wind farm in Texas. In 2012 alone, the Internet giant claims to have ploughed $1b into the industry, and Last month, Google outlined plans for utilities to offer renewable power to companies, an initiative that kicked off with its Lenoir data center.
Google has previously said it’s looking to speed up innovation and development in green energy projects, and through Google.org, Google Ventures and Google corporate investments, it has invested in early-stage companies such as Makani Power and Potter Drilling. It has also previously invested in utility-scale projects, which are designed to contribute significant amounts of renewable energy to the electricity grid. Why does Google care? Well, as with any technology company, it needs electricity to operate and fossil fuels are finite.
“When we consider investing in a renewable energy project, we focus on two key factors -first, we only pursue investments that we believe make financial sense,” explains Rick Needham, Director for Energy & Sustainability at Google.
“South Africa’s strong resources and supportive policies for renewable energy make it an attractive place to invest — which is why it had the highest growth in clean energy investment in the world last year,” he continues. “Second, we look for projects that have transformative potential—that is, projects that will bolster the growth of the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future. The Jasper Power Project is one of those transformative opportunities.”
You can read more about the investment and project here.