Search giant Google is to invest US$12m (R120m) in the Jasper Power Project, a 96MW solar photovoltaic plant in South Africa’s arid Northern Cape province. When completed, Jasper will generate enough electricity to power 30 000 homes and will be one of the largest solar installations in Africa.
Google has committed more than $1bn to renewable energy investments to date, mainly in the US.
Developed and funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, the $260m Jasper project is also backed by the Public Investment Corp and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Senior debt and preference-share funding is being provided by Rand Merchant Bank.
The project is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs once completed.
The South African government has said it hopes to generate 18GW of energy from renewable sources by 2030, an ambitious target given the entire national grid is currently 44GW.
South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme has been established to help meet this target. The programme pits renewable energy projects against one another. Projects compete on the basis of cost and contribution to the local economy, with the winner being awarded a contract with state-owned Eskom.
Google South Africa country director Luke Mckend says that when Google considers investing in renewable energy projects, it focuses on two factors: “First, we only pursue investments that we believe make financial sense. 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.
“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, and the department of energy’s innovative REIPPPP has played a key role in making it possible.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
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