Google has just invested about $12 million in South Africa’s Jasper Power Solar Project. According to Rick Needham, Director of Energy & Sustainability at Google, the project will power about 30,000 South African homes and will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent. The project which is developed and funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, is also backed by Rand Merchant Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.
South Africa has a goal of achieving a rate of 18GW in renewable energy by 2030 compared to about 44GW being produced by all its resources at present.
The total cost of the Jasper solar farm is estimated at about $260 million.
The investment is a significant win for South Africa given its heavily coal dependent energy system.
Google is confident it can make a reasonable return on its investment in the project by helping spur more growth in the broader sector.
“There’s a clear need for more power in South Africa,” said Needham. “In the meantime, we can make some returns on our investments, so it’s a win-win,” he said.
The project is one of many projects kickstarted by South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program and is expected to create 300 jobs for construction and 50 permanent jobs.
Speaking on Google’s recent investment, Ompi Aphane, a Deputy Director-General at the South African department of energy said, “It’s very good that the likes of Google see value and have expressed an interest in our programme. Over and above that we would like to also have solid investors participating in the programme. You have the confidence that those kind of brand-conscious companies are not going do a quick and nasty.”