Google Makes Its First Renewable Energy Investment In Africa, Puts $12M Toward South African Solar Plant

Google today announced that it is investing $12 million in a 96 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in South Africa. This marks Google’s first renewable energy investment in Africa and its 12th overall renewable energy investment. Once it’s completed, Google says, the Jasper Power Project, which is situated in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, will generate enough power for 30,000 South African homes. In total, Google has now committed more than $1 billion to green energy projects.

In South Africa, Google is joining SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group as the main funders for this project, which is also backed by Rand Merchant Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust. The project will be one of the largest in South Africa and cover about 450 acres with more than 325,000 solar modules.

In today’s announcement, Google’s director for energy and sustainability, Rick Needham, also lays out some of the criteria the company uses to make these kinds of investments. He notes, for example, that Google will “only pursue investments that we believe make financial sense.” Because South Africa has policies that support these kind of projects, Google believes it is an attractive place for it to invest in this technology. The company, however, is also looking 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.”