Google has made it’s first investment in Africa, contributing $12 million to the Jasper Power Project in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
The 96 MW solar PV power plant will be one of the biggest solar plants in Africa, and will produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.
According to a blog post from Rick Needham, Google’s Director of Energy & Sustainability, the company considers two key factors when deciding on renewable energy investments: 1. financial viability and 2. “transformative potential.”
This project is attractive for google because of South Africa’s government policies that support renewables. In 2012, South Africa had the fastest growth in clean energy investment in the world thanks in part to supportive policies including the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), which the Jasper Power Project is a part of.
Needham says the project will “bolster the growth of the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future,” and that the success of this solar project will set an example for the whole African continent.
Furthermore, the project will create around 300 construction and 50 permanent jobs, and a part of the project revenues will be set aside for enterprise and socio-economic development.
“We appreciate how forward-thinking the South African government has been in designing the REIPPPP to encourage these kinds of local economic benefits,” says Needham.