Google Invests Millions in South African Solar Project

Once completed, The Jasper Power Project will generate enough energy to power 30,000 South African homes — a crucial ability given the country's severe blackouts.

Posted: 05/31/2013 04:23 PM EDT

South Africa’s government has made renewable energy a top priority for the coming years. A recent investment made by Google in the amount of $12 million (103 million Rand) reflects that commitment.

“As we search for investments that can help speed up the adoption of renewable energy, we’ve been looking beyond the U.S. and Europe to parts of the world where our investments can have an even greater impact,” wrote Rick Needham, Google’s Director of Energy & Sustainability, in a recent blog post.

The American multinational company has invested in the Jasper Power Project, a 96 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Developed and funded by several groups, including SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensai Group, the Jasper Power Project is slated to power 30,000 South African households once completed.  

“We are proud to be part of South Africa’s progressive program to advance clean energy, and we are excited to have Google as a partner,” SolarReserve's CEO Kevin Smith said in a recent press release.

“Our Jasper project will provide substantial, long-term economic benefits to the region and help the country meet its impressive clean energy goals.”

To combat the extensive energy shortages experienced throughout the country since 2008, the South African Department of Energy has aimed to produce 18 gigawatts of energy by 2030. The Jasper Power Project and similar renewable energy innovations have been awarded contracts with the country’s state-operated energy utility Eskom through the ambitious initiative Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP).

With these projects, the government hopes to achieve the government’s ambitious goal and stimulate South Africa's unemployment rate through permament job growth, education programming and rural development.


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(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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