Google takes clean power strategy to Africa

Google is sinking $12 million in a 96-megawatt solar power plant in Africa, its first renewable energy investment in the continent.

Google is sinking $12 million into a 96-megawatt solar power plant in Africa, its first renewable energy investment in the continent.

The search engine giant has recently looked beyond the U.S. and Europe, historically where most of its focus and money has been directed, to parts of the world where its clean energy investments could have an even greater impact, Google said on its blog. The company has invested more than $1 billion into clean power projects including wind farms, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic plants.

The Jasper Power Project will be built in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. When built,the project will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent, able to generate enough electricity to power 30,000 South African homes.

Google's investment accounts for just a sliver of the total $260 million cost. But it's an important sliver. The remainder of the financing has been closed by a consortium of the project's partners, including U.S. utility-scale solar plant developer SolarReserve, Kensani Group and Intikon, a South African developer of clean energy projects.

South Africa has become a hotbed of renewable energy activity in the wake of a severe energy shortage in 2008 that caused blackouts throughout the country. The government has since set a goal of generating 18 gigawatts of renewable energy 2030, which by today's standards would account for 40 percent of the entire South African grid.

SolarReserve already has two other 75 MW projects in South Africa. And there will likely be more. The company sees enough potential in the country to open an operational headquarters there.

Photo: Google

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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